We have managed to celebrate this month of December even though our “to do” lists are much longer than usual. Even if we are hardened against the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the Christmas celebration, we are still affected in some way. The question I have is: “Do we really know what we are celebrating?” If we are Christians, the easy answer is the birth of Jesus Christ some 2,000 years ago. If we are not Christians, we might simply recognize this time as a time to gather with friends and family.
A book club, to which I belong, is reading the book, The Holy Longing, by Ronald Rolheiser. In the book the term incarnation is used, a lofty term don’t you think? It best describes, however, what it is we celebrate. I share with you a story from the book. It is said that a little girl, has a nightmare and wants the comfort of her mother. Her mother takes her back into her room and reassures her that there are no monsters and that there is nothing of which to be afraid. She also tells her that God is with her. The little girl replies, “I know that God is here, but I need someone in this room who has some skin.” That is what we celebrate with the birth of Jesus Christ. We are celebrating the birth of God with skin on, the person of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the Incarnation; God’s dwelling with us through his son, Jesus.
The celebration does not end with this understanding because we have a very active role to play which carries the concept of incarnation forward. St. Teresa of Avila, a mystic (1515-1582) said this. “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good; yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” Because of the Incarnation we celebrate the opportunity to reveal God in the world.