I wonder why God revealed himself in the flesh of a newborn baby? Why did he choose a vulnerable infant to unite Divinity with humanity?
Perhaps it’s because everyone loves babies. They’re cute and innocent. They fill us with joy. So, God chose the non-threatening beauty of a child to show us how much he loves us.
But there’s another part of the Christmas message. By uniting Divine Love with human flesh, God invites us to embody his Presence—to become not God, but the embodiment of God’s love through the story of our lives.
We might forget that part of Christmas Wisdom if we stop at the manger and simply adore the Christ child. Adoring God is good. But, God placed his seed of Divinity into the egg of humanity and birthed a human being to make love tangible—God with skin—through the arms, legs, voice, and touch of a human we call his Son. And now, having joined Divine Spirit with human flesh, God recreates himself in every human person.
What if we flipped the Christmas story and we became the ones lying in the manger? If we’re the ones resting in the stable of God’s Divinity? If we’re asleep as God gazes upon us, marveling at the beauty created by joining Divine Spirit with our human flesh?
Try it. Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine you’re lying in the manger. You’re nestled safe and warm in the straw as God caresses your skin. You’re wrapped in swaddling clothes silkened with Divine Love. Allow yourself to be picked up and held in the Creator’s strong arms—to feel your heart beating against his chest, your human face brushing his Divine Skin. Hear the God who created you whisper silently in your ear, “I love you. You are good.”
Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio calls this Christmas message Radical Incarnation.
Radical because it goes to the root of why God chose to incarnate his Spirit of Divine Love in us. It’s mind-blowing. Awesome. Possible.
We’ve been gifted not only with the ability, but also the responsibility, of being part of God’s unfolding love in the world. We’re called to multiply love through the tapestry of our lives.
When we flip the story and allow ourselves to imagine we’re lying in the manger, everything changes. Suddenly, we’re wrapped in God’s love. We’re swaddled with the Wisdom he desires to whisper to our hearts. And then, like Christ, we’re called to leave the manger and co-create love with our hands, our feet, our skin, and our hearts.
We are the Incarnation of Christ. Not God, but part of God’s Divine Plan to fashion everything, everyone, with love, and continue to create the miracle of love throughout the Universe.
And when the burden of life gets hard, when we forget who we are, when we fill with fear and fall into survival mode, we can go back to the stable of Solitude, lie quietly in the manger of God’s Presence, and let the Creator breathe his life back into us so we can incarnate—embody with flesh—his love in the world.
This Christmas, let your imagination go free. Envision you’re lying in the manger. Let God continue to birth you with Divine Love and Wisdom. Let the Presence of Christ flow in and through you as you become God’s loving present to the world.
—brian j plachta
I never got that kiss with Teresa. But as I reflect on that long-ago night, I realize Sister Carmella shared two pieces of wisdom I’ll never forget: to leave room for Jesus and the healing power of a smile.