INCARNATING GOD IN OUR LIVES
(A Christmas Reflection by Mark Leosala)
There is a tendency for many of us to think of Christmas as a time when God comes down to the earth like that of an alien from the sky. It somehow affects the way we see Jesus if that mentality is operative in us. We see him as a foreigner, an outsider. In my formal study of theology, I remember our professor reminding us his students that during Christmas we should focus our attention on the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God. Incarnation is most formally the embodiment of God in the person of Jesus Christ. As the Body of Christ, we are the embodiment of God. We make God incarnate. We give God flesh in the world. This is done in many different forms, through our work, the care for our families, the use of our talents, our creativity, our volunteering, and our prayer. Just as Mary had a role in bringing God into the world, we also share in that role. God reaches us, in a real way, through the real things of our lives. When my blood pressure was at an all-time high the other day, my wife brought me a cool cloth for my forehead. Her action was an act of love. God cared for me-touched me-through her. When I allow myself to listen deeply to someone in spiritual direction, I am allowing God to become incarnate in me, to enter lovingly into the life of the other person. Christmas carries with it many meanings, which may change for each of us depending on our life circumstances at a particular time, but the Incarnation ultimately was to shift our mindset about God. The mystery of the Incarnation has revolutionized the way we think about our God: through it, we are reminded that God was already close to us instead of God becoming closer to us; through it, we are reminded that creation was already sacred instead of creation becoming sacred when Jesus arrived. Christmas wasn't to tell us that God started loving us differently, but that God had already loved us infinitely from the beginning of time. It took an event like the Incarnation to shake up-shake off-our old ways of thinking. So as we celebrate the season of Christmas, let each day remind us that God has already been present and fleshy in each of us, through all we do, all the ways we love, and all the ways we give of ourselves. The Incarnation of God on earth lives and unfolds in each of us. That is our Christian call. The Christmas message for us is that we must remind our sisters and brothers-everyone we encounter-that Love is closer than they think.