The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us


Photo by Walter Chávez on Unsplash

The Gospel for the fourth Sunday of Advent, tells us the story of the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.  At this moment Christ comes into our world.   As we say in the Angelus “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary and she conceived by the Holy Spirit”.  At Midnight Mass, as we move into our celebration of Christmas, we shall hear the story of the birth of Mary’s child.  On the Sunday after Christmas the Feast of the Holy Family shows Jesus beginning to live out his mission in the story of the finding in the temple.

When St Ignatius of Loyola is setting the scene for someone to contemplate this scene of the Annunciation he paints a picture of the Trinity looking down at the world and seeing all the people in it going about their lives, living and dying.  It is our world, a world of riches and poverty, a world with suffering and violence but it is a world without hope.  The reaction of the Trinity to this vision of the world is not the one we see in the story of the Flood in Genesis where God looks at the world and decides it has all gone wrong and he needs to start again through Noah.  No, here the Trinity’s reaction is that the Second Person of the Trinity should be part of that world, should become one like us, God-with-us.  God does not destroy the world and start all over again.  God, in love, shares our experience and turns our world into a world of hope.  Christ comes into the world through this ordinary girl given extraordinary grace to be part of that mission of hope and salvation, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word”.  As the story goes on Mary and Joseph share the experience of many in our world who have had to leave their homes and are told there is “no room”, “everywhere is full”, “we cannot take any more”.  As a result, we have the scene we see in our crib of Jesus being born among the animals in a stable. In Matthew’s account the Holy Family have to flee their own country to escape the violence of Herod, again like so many in our world today.  In the Christmas story there are various pointers to the Cross.  This is something Simeon makes clear in the Gospel we hear on the feast of the Holy Family.  Sharing our lives means sharing that reality of suffering and violence.  The love the Trinity shows for the world is a costly love which leads to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This is a time to contemplate that love of the God who comes into our world and shares our life.  As we look at the scene in the crib so we can wonder at the depth of that love.  All the sounds and sights of Christmas are there to bring home to us that fundamental reality which makes all the difference to our world and which we hear proclaimed in the Christmas day time Gospel, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us”.

A happy Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

Fr Chris Pedley SJ