“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. As he predicted,“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.
The Son of God became human 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. Jesus, in becoming human, in living among us, in teaching, healing, and casting out demons, built a bridge leading to a relationship with God. He 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: God is our Father and we are all brothers and sisters.
The Incarnation, the reality that the Son of God became fully human while remaining fully divine, reveals to us that none of us are worthless. In becoming one with us so that we can become one with him, Jesus reminds each of us that by our very existence God granted us human dignity because we are created in his image and likeness.
Each and every human being is a part of God’s family. This includes all people no matter race, ethnicity, political party, 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, or 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.”
The significance of this wonderful gift of the love of God poured out for each and every one of us is not only to be pondered upon and embraced but also shared with all we encounter each day of the new year we are about to begin. Even in the darkness of division and polarization, Jesus calls us to be advocates of understanding, reconciliation, hope, and bearers of his light and love.
Photo: Christmas Eve 2021 getting ready to set up before midnight Mass.