“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The Logos, the Word, the second person of the Holy Trinity, dwelt or another translation, “tabernacled” among us. The Son of God pitched his tent in our midst. This is a reference to the tabernacle or tent of meeting which was erected whenever Moses and those who had escaped slavery in Egypt camped. Within the tent of meeting was placed the Ark of the Covenant. This was done to follow the will of God who wanted to be present with his people. “They shall make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8).
The Ark of the Covenant and the tabernacle housing it was portable and would move with the people, such that God was always present in their midst. The basic structure would later become the foundation for Solomon’s temple, then Herod’s Temple. The Holy of Holies was believed to be the very seat of God in Jerusalem. In the fullness of time, Jesus was born to us, and he became the living temple, Emmanuel, God with us. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19).
And why did Jesus come? So that the glory of God could be revealed not just to the temple priest, but to all of us, “and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Jesus came to be one with us in our humanity while remaining fully divine to reveal the glory of his Father to us, the same glory that filled the tabernacle. Jesus came to be present, to accompany us, in our very midst as God did in the tabernacle and then the Temple.
Jesus was born to share the fullness of God’s grace and his truth with us. He came to restore the ancient covenant that God has been making with his people throughout the ages. Jesus invites us to share in the infinite, faithful love that he shares and has shared and always will share with his Father. This free, generous act of love is a pure gift to us. Jesus, in becoming human, in living among us, in teaching, healing, and so building a bridge of relationship with God, shines his light. A light that is not overcome by the darkness of pride, hatred, prejudice, and violence, so that we can see the truth, that God is our Father and we are all brothers and sisters.
The Incarnation, the reality that the Son of God became human while remaining fully divine, reveals to us that none of us are junk, because God created us and became one with us. Each of us by our very existence has human dignity because we are created in his image and likeness and he dwells among us.
Each and every human being is a part of God’s family. This includes all people no matter race, ethnicity, or creed, male or female, the unborn, the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, the sick, those without access to water or adequate health care, widows, orphans, refugees, migrants, the LGBT person, the person in jail or on death row, the person at the end of life, and as Fr. James Martin, SJ wrote, “so many others who feel forgotten, excluded or marginalized. All are members of God’s family.”
Jesus has made his dwelling among us such that we may be healed and reconciled with God and one another, and we do so as we open ourselves with all our mind and heart, strength and soul, to receive the gift of the grace and truth that Jesus offers to us 24/7, his very life and love. The receiving of this unmeritorious gift of grace, that Jesus became one with us in our humanity so that we can become one with him in his divinity, is what we are celebrating this Christmas Season. Let us not only experience, receive, and ponder the significance of this wonderful gift of the love of God, but share it with all we encounter each day in this new year.