Christmas: Good Flesh
‘The Incarnation involves our humanity; it is our flesh He divinized. It should not be a matter of indifference to us whether or not we celebrate the intimate union of two natures in Christ on the day when the Word was born according to the flesh…Perhaps we have not grasped the heights to which our nature has been raised by the Incarnation.’ Fr. Adrian Nocent
This Christmas-time, will we allow the power of the Incarnation to penetrate our lives?
I seek this, as the marvel of God becoming flesh has eluded me a bit, its glorious impossibility dulled by the flesh/Spirit duality of my early Christian roots. I distorted St. Paul’s good demarcation between the two into a lopsided, gnostic view of the Holy Spirit as good, my bodily desires, bad ; Jesus the light who entered but somehow did not dethrone my embodied darkness.
That muted the power of how God’s humanity forever altered mine. The truth is: Christmas means that the manger of our humanity has become a palace. How? God entered in and irrevocably transformed it. By His divinity, the man Jesus raises us up to the level of the divine. The dung heap of our lives becomes welcoming fragrant ground when He dwells there.
‘Crap-detectors’ must learn how to smell the roses. For such a transition, the 12-days of Christmas may not be long enough! We must spend time at the crib, reflecting on what God won for us at His birth. ‘It really is our poor flesh and blood that lies there in the crib; it is our flesh which dies with Him and is buried with Him…Look at the cradle! In the body of this little child, in the Incarnate Son of God, your flesh in all its distress, anxiety, and temptation, indeed all your sin, is borne , forgiven and healed.’ (Bonhoeffer)
That is welcoming news for persons with same-sex attraction who are pummeled daily with the deception that the ‘gay self’ and ‘spirit’ are naturally good, even godly. How refreshing to be reminded of St. Peter’s application of the Incarnation to a Church suffering under false teachers: ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…He has given us great and precious promises so that through them you might participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.’ (2P 1: 3, 4)
The Incarnation frees humanity to participate in His divine nature and so become morally beautiful in a perverse, corrosive age. Realizing such beauty takes time and effort of course. But we proceed, knowing full well that One greater lives within us and will liberate our humanity from myriad forces that would otherwise fracture and deride us. We become a united front, Glory Himself ascending in us and eclipsing all claims to dishonor upon us.
All is possible because He came and made the manger a palace.
‘He raises the needy from the dust; from the dung heap He lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their inheritance.’ (1S 2:8)