What does it mean to be born? For Christians, everything. We have an incarnate faith. For us, God reveals himself through humanity and seeks a relationship with us. This is a unique aspect of our Christian faith different from other religions. Today’s reading from John 1:14 says,
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
To those who accepted him
he gave power to become the children of God.
I like how the translation preserves the word flesh. It puts into context the vulnerability of the babe of Jesus, and also softens ideas that we may have about God. When he is a person, who is walking, breathing, needing, and living among us, it draws us into a real and personal relationship that might be hard to imagine when speaking to a more effervescent God of the Universe. Jesus’ birth is the birth of our savior, and also the birth of a new way of relating to God.
It is perhaps easy to assume that God was always here, a citizen of planet earth, alive in the fullest. As Christians today, we have the benefit of the New Testament including all four gospels and numerous epistles. Yet consider how strange it must have been for people in those days to hear that God was born. It is a mystery that probably cannot be fully grasped in our limited minds. Consider the wonder that would have accompanied this knowledge as it became known to his disciples and followers. Does it render awe in you, too?
Our faith is built around this reality of real enfleshment and the real presence of Christ at mass. Today he is called directly or indirectly the Word, the Logos, the Creator of life, the light of the human race, and the true light, which enlightens everyone (John 1:1-18).
The reality of Christ’s presence both in history, in the mass, and in one another reveals an incredible truth about Jesus – that he wants to be here.
Despite everything we may have done as individuals or as a collective human family to bar him from our hearts, he is here. He has not abandoned us. John 1:11 speaks for many of us who have failed to live up to his commandments when he recalls, He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. It doesn’t change the fact that God loves us. He was in the beginning with God and remains with us.
John Paul II, from Theology of the Body, 19:5, reflects upon this mystery:
In man, created in the image of God, the very sacramentality of creation, the sacramentality of the world, was thus in some way revealed… together with man, holiness has entered the visible world, the world created for him.
How do we begin to digest the reality of such incredible love? Christ makes himself vulnerable in order to reach us. At mass, we literally hold him cupped in our hands. As we slowly surrender our wills and learn to love him back, rest assured that he is here because he really wants to be. You are, in fact, loved beyond comprehension.