Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas | Carney

“It is the last hour,” writes John in today’s first reading. And so it is! Few will shed a tear at the passing of 2020. To echo today’s psalm, let us hope and pray that we can all “sing a new song” in 2021.

Today’s readings bring home the great mystery of Christmas, namely the mystery of the Incarnation. The transcendent God becomes flesh in the human form of a Jewish carpenter and rabbi. God meets us in our humanity. We find God not by escaping our experience, but by going more deeply into it. I teach my theology students this doctrine every semester, and it never grows old. To me, it is one of the richest and most important truths of the “good news” of the gospel.

But what stands out to me today is the world of conflict in which the incarnate God comes. The “antichrists” have been with us for 2,000 years; Christian communities were as divided in John’s time as they are today; the subversion of truth and circulation of lies are not unique to our own social media age. Jesus may be the “light of the human race” and “only-begotten Son,” and yet “the world did not know him” and “his own people did not accept him.” In fact, they tortured and crucified him.

I welcome the first truth of the Incarnation, namely that God meets me where I am. This second truth – that I often reject this God trying to meet me where I am – is distinctly more uncomfortable. John reminds me, though, that I am not on my own; God doesn’t stand over and beyond me, waiting to judge if and how I will respond. Rather, God’s Spirit is constantly at work in our lives, “grace in place of grace,” guiding us toward acts of love, truth, peace, and justice. May we never grow complacent in the face of the powers of darkness so evident our world and in our lives. But may we also never forget that “a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Reflection used from permission from Creighton Online Ministries at onlineministries.crieghton.edu.