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The Word Incarnate, now what?

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Yesterday’s Christmas celebration should have caused us Christians to wake this morning with a few questions in our hearts.

Where do I find this baby boy Jesus today? How do I respond to the example of his birth and his family’s interaction? How do I live as a Catholic in truth to the Christmas message of obedience as demonstrated by Joseph and Mary? How do I become love to those closest to me as God our Father has loved us?

Today’s scripture readings help us to answer some of these questions. The Gospel according to Saint Matthew reveals an exampling story of a protective and obedient father over his wife and new born son, a nurturing mother whose life has been devotedly offered to God and a child whose prophetic destiny has its beginning by his birth.

For you and I this picture encapsulates our own road map to fulfillment of God’s call on our lives.

We must first however, ask how the Word becoming flesh (See John 1:14) changes who we are and what we do.

While visiting my sister and her family yesterday, I witnessed a nephew admiring the beautiful, black and white photographic collage of our family’s ancestral tree hanging on the dining room wall. At that moment my sister kindly said to him that she thought the greatest gift we could offer our late ancestors is in the way we live with and love one another today. His reply was: “Wow! I have never thought of it that way before.”

I am enlightened by this exchange, especially in light of our celebrating and remembering the holy family Joseph, Mary and Jesus. What better way to pay tribute to and of honoring them than the way we treat one another today and the days to come?

It is in our relationships with family and friends, both encountered by giving and by receiving that we make active our faith and give deed to the Word made flesh. This putting flesh on our faith is now what!

Our most profound sufferings, our greatest heroics, our most significant encounters with God are here with these people we know and love, in their goodness, in their weakness. Where else do we most intimately encounter what Paul calls the “requirements” of love: those crucibles of patience, the winnowing of humility, the courage of forgiveness, the comfort of kindnessIt is all here, in our homes, in the pews of our churches, in our friends, in our families.

Here is the holy ground. Here is the face of God, the smile shining upon us, the kindly gaze upon us. These are arks of the covenant. These are the holy of holies if we only look, like Simeon; if we only see, like Anna; if only, like Mary, we take time to ponder it all in our hearts.

John Kavanaugh, S. J. of Saint Louis University

Like the wedding that becomes greater than the marriage, let us not make the Christmas celebration greater than the living of the Christmas message.

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