During the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, retreatants spend some time contemplating on the birth of Jesus. Directors often encourage them to pick the Divine Infant and hold the new-born King. Often it is Mary who gently offers the Child. I have done this several times over the years as it is a precious moment of snuggling with the human Jesus who has come to share our humanity. This is the moment of Incarnation–of our Saviour becoming one of us.
On this Holy Christmas Day, some of us will also be reflecting why Christ came. He lived to die in order to save us. Yet he did not do so begrudgingly. He gave willing, not wasting a moment of the 33 years here on earth. He healed people. He helped those who had gone astray to find the right path again. He developed relationships. He attended parties and gatherings. He worked humbly as a carpenter. He took care of his mother after his earthly father died. He studied and shared the Scripture with those who would listen. He changed people’s hearts and minds. He pointed people to Life. He knew the political climate of the day and responded to it with the eyes of mercy and compassion as well as justice and defiance. Christ did not stand down to oppression but stood up for the oppressed.
We too are given life and asked to use it well in order to be Christ’s hands and feet in this world. We are to let the Incarnate One shine through us. So often at the end of the Exercises I see transformed people. The Infinite Infant has found a new home. People have welcomed him into the stable of their messy lives. Last night at mass during the homily the presider sang part of an old Crash Test Dummies/Brad Roberts hit (I know others have recorded it but I originally know the song via this Winnipeg band), One of Us?
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?
God did become one of us that holy night in Bethlehem. We must keep our eyes peeled to see this Glorious One in those around us. I have seen that face often in these past five weeks as people have cared and carried me. I am grateful for having eyes to see and a heart that recognizes the blessings that have been given. The path has not been straight and I have been a slob about my graciousness some days. The concussion makes it hard for me to tolerate noise and my memory is still a bit wonky–even wonkier than normal. Yet in it all, I feel the touch of God. My doctors in the hospital during my three-plus week stay were fabulous. The overworked staff did their best to meet my needs. One nurse laughed out loud going off his overnight shift one night when I thanked him. For what? he joked, you were my easiest patient. You asked nothing of me all night. However he had left me alone so I could sleep and that was what I had needed most.
God is in all things and having shared humanity with us once, we should keep an eye out for that Holy Presence daily. One never knows when it will appear. To be home and to have shared what may be my last Christmas with family and my church community are enough for me. I am learning to fall on my knees in the dirty stable and worship on a new level and that too is more than enough for me. I am trying to make my way Home as a person who will have sufficient love, peace, grace, and joy in her heart. Like the retreatants, I want to be transformed and though the past month and a half have been a heavy cross, I have for several years now tied the Birth with the Death and Resurrection. May I continue to learn the lessons that I need for this adventure of mine.
Blessings this Holy Day to you and yours.
What lessons can you learn in the dirty stable on your knees this Christmas?
Where has the Incarnate One appeared to you today?
Sharer of Humanity, thank you for becoming one of us. You shared this earthly journey with us and therefore you know our anger, pain, sadness, joy, love, confusion, and needs before we often do ourselves. You gift yourself to us endlessly. Time and again you come to us anew, reminding us Whose we are. This Christmas may my heart receive you as the joyous angels and hope-filled shepherds did. Let me fall on my knees and worship. Amen.