Why all the fuss about God becoming “incarnate” at Christmas time? Well, the excitement is all because God for the first time in all of history becomes tangible in a way He had never been before. “Incarnate” means “in-the-flesh”. God comes to us in-the-flesh, so humanity is able to sense him in a way like never before. It is through the senses that human beings primarily come to know about things.
So St. John writes in his first letter: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1John 1:1-3).
Hearing, seeing, touching: all words that have to do with our senses. God wanted us to sense Him in a way more tangible than ever before. So in the person of Jesus Christ, humanity was hearing, seeing and touching God Himself. Jesus Christ – God Incarnate – walked this earth for about 33 years and amazingly transformed many of the people he encountered. This included especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and the Apostles. And after Jesus’ death, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles and other disciples continued to speak about Him, and some even wrote about Him; out of which came our New Testament part of the Bible.
Through the Tradition of the Church, which hands the Bible to us down through the centuries, you and I now get to hear, see and touch Jesus, because of the writings of those who actually walked side-by-side with Him. And because of the very tangible practices and teachings handed on even along with the Bible. Had God not come in the flesh, you and I never would have had the opportunity to know Him as intimately as we do.
Now much of that seeing, hearing and touch happens for us through the Sacraments. It is no surprise that the Sacraments always have an aspect of sight, some words heard and a touch (e.g., the touch of the priests while applying oil in Baptism and Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick; or the feel of water in Baptism; or the taste of bread and wine in the Eucharist). Also, our spiritual senses of seeing, hearing and touching are affected when we meditate on the life of God Incarnate, Jesus Christ, in the Scriptures.
And what is also very, very significant about the fact that you and I have now seen, heard and touched Jesus is that we become a means by which others can begin to experience God Incarnate in their lives. In some small way each of us can become an instrument by which somebody else begins to see, hear and touch Jesus. Our transformed lives are to be a way by which God begins to be Incarnate in the lives of those around us, tangible to those around us, who otherwise might not be seeking to see, hear or touch God on their own. May our lives become all-the-more full of the sense of God, the awareness of God, the tangibility of God through this Christmas season and the new year!
I am writing this letter just after having returned from the Christmas program put on at Divine Mercy School. The students, teachers and staff once again did a fantastic job. The program was very inspiring and entertaining. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make it happen!
On another note, perhaps you have noticed that the sound systems at our Payne and Paulding campuses seem improved. Some generous parishioners donated money for us to purchase a new mixer and two new wireless microphones and receivers at Payne. It was the mixer, we believe, that was misfunctioning, such that readers often had to hit the microphone with their hand to make it work. Hopefully, the need for such an approach is over. At Paulding, we purchased a new, taller, microphone for the podium, a new mixer and a couple of microphones for the choir loft, and two new wireless microphones and receivers. We will continue to monitor the improvements, and see if we need to make any more. Many thanks to the parishioners who gave us money for all of this many months ago; and thank you for your patience, as it took me many months to get the right people to accomplish the task.
Many thanks also to the men who helped me clean out all the water damaged paneling and other items from the basement of my rectory in Paulding. There was white mold down in the basement, and a fair amount of water damage from years gone by; and I think that was the source of the swamp smell in the rectory in warm, humid weather. We saved a ton of money handling the cleanup this way.
Many thanks also to everybody who worked to make our Christmas liturgies beautiful: sacristans, decorators, musicians, choirs, lectors, Eucharistic distributors, maintenance people, cleaners. Good worship of the Lord is worth all of this work, worth our very best efforts; and I am so grateful that in our parish so many people understand this!
May the Lord bless all of you abundantly in this Christmas season and New Year!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,