Isaiah 9: 1-6; Timothy 2: 11-14; Luke 2:1-14
Consider for a moment the truth of God becoming man. What image does that bring to mind? At Mass during the day we hear in the Gospel of John, “And the Word became flesh.” That proclamation overflows with profound mystery and resonates with the power of God. I have witnessed Catholics of a certain age bow their heads in reverence at the mere utterance of those words from Scripture.
Contrast those words from John with Luke’s Gospel, which we hear at the Mass at Midnight (my favorite Liturgy of the year). We hear the pronouncement of the angel of the Lord when he describes how the shepherds will find Jesus, “…an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
Though these two depictions are quite different, they show us that Jesus is all these things to us. He is the Word of God made man by the very power of God in his overflowing love for us; he is the infant born of the Virgin, humble and lowly in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling clothes.
If you have children, then you probably remember swaddling your baby in a blanket. If you have ever done that, then you know that it greatly constricts the infant’s movements and makes them calm and subdued. Just imagine – the Word became flesh and the very power and majesty of God has become man by the zeal of the Lord of Hosts! Yet he comes as one who is forever peaceful, and humble – even swaddled.
What a great gift we have in this season of Advent to make present in our memory year after year, the coming into this world of our Lord and Savior. What peace and joy it should give us to know that the Lord comes for us. While we were still sinners he came. And he comes into our lives this Advent, and every day in fact, to seek a relationship with us wherever it is that we are. He comes to us in the lowly mangers of our existence and he brings us light and life where there had been death and darkness.
In all of our lives there is a part of it that is like the “manger.” It’s dark, and a little messy, and it is certainly not the part of our life that we planned – but that is precisely where God finds us. He comes into that part of our life to a bring great light to it and have us know him so that we can share in his joy.
This Christmas, reflect on your own personal understanding of Jesus. Consider in prayer how it is that you know him – as mighty King, or Prince of Peace. And then, in prayer, kneel down in that “manger” that exists in your own life. Look upon the infant Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and consider the awesome wonder of the fact that the Word became flesh — for you.
Deacon Davis ministers at Sacred Heart Parish in Chestertown, Md.