Monday, December 25, 2006

"And the Word became flesh"

God is big. He is very big. He is so huge we can’t even fathom it. He is infinite, so our finite minds really can’t even approach his vastness. But, we can get some kind of a scale of the hugeness of his creation. We can use measures and distances like light years and miles to start to understand how immense is the world God has created. Light travels at over 180,000 miles a second. A “light year”, then, is over 6 trillion miles! It is less than 2 light years from here to the moon –about 240,000 miles. Whoa. The star closest to the sun is 4 light years away. If astronauts were to travel in the most sophisticated spacecraft, it would take them about 80,000 years to get there. And, that’s just one star out of about 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Our galaxy is just one of about 100 billion! Now, this is pretty heady stuff, especially this early in the morning. I’m surprised I was able to get through all of that! But, the immense universe God has created shows us how big God is.

We hear in today’s Gospel that Christ was there at the beginning of the world. He was there at Creation. “In the beginning was the Word”. Christ is the Word. All things have been created through Him. It was through Christ that our huge universe was created…all the galaxies and stars and planets. . “The Word was with God. And the Word was God”. Christ is God. He is the Son of God who is infinite. “And the Word became flesh”. God who is so big became one of us! We realize how small each one of us in relation to the universe; and, God became one of us! God who is do big became so small. The God who created the universe became a little baby. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.

Now, this is all pretty deep stuff. We could spend our whole lives meditating on that line from John’s Gospel, and some of us do. But, we can use more practical, mundane examples of how the Word becomes flesh. When you are kind to someone or generous, the Word becomes flesh, and dwells among us. When you forgive someone, the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. When you serve the poor, the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. A few weeks ago at youth group, we were talking about serving the poor. Several of our teens told stories of how they have served those in need. It was really like example after example of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. It was examples of God’s love becoming real in them.

When we pray for someone or offer a sacrifice for them, the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. When you lead someone to a sacrament, the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. Recently, a small group of parishioners has been talking to me about Confession. At first, they were very much not in favor of going. But, then, they finally came and loved it! They then encouraged the others in the group to go. Again, examples of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

The greatest example for us of the Word becoming flesh is the Eucharist. What is the difference between God’s presence in the world and his presence in the manger as a baby? He is invisibly present in the world and through us; he is visible in the manger. The Word becomes flesh for us to see him as a baby. The actual feast of the Word becoming flesh, the Incarnation, is on March 25, when Christ is conceived in Mary. Today, we celebrate him becoming flesh for us to see.

It is the same thing with the Eucharist. In a few minutes at the Consecration, when I hold the bread and say, “this is my body”, the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. When we receive Him in Holy Communion, He not only dwells among us, He dwells within us! We are just like Mary in that we have God dwelling within us, in our bellies. Who are we that God should dwell within us!

As we receive the Word today…as the Word dwells within us, let us be open to Him. For when the Word dwells within us, God’s love dwells within us. Let us be open so that His love penetrates our hearts on a very deep level. May you know His love for you this day, and all the days of your lives.

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