The Incarnation ~ The Word made flesh!
We're so close to Christmas, to the Incarnation! There's a story I heard a while back that has always stayed with me...
There was once a man who didn't believe in the Incarnation or the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God. He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in her faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her faith and mocked her religious observance of Christmas.
One snowy Christmas eve she was taking the kids to the Christmas eve Mass at church. She pleaded with him to come, but he firmly refused. He ridiculed the idea of the Incarnation of Christ and dismissed it as nonsense. "Why would God lower himself and become a human like us?! It's such a ridiculous story!" he said. So she and the children left for church while he stayed home.
After they left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As he looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window. And another thump. He looked outside but couldn't see. So he ventured outside to see. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of geese! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but got caught in the snow storm. The snow had became too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just fluttered their wings and flew around in circles around the field blindly and aimlessly. He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm."
So he walked over to the barn and opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open doors and go inside. But they just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He started whistling and calling to them. Nothing. He shouted, jumped up and down, waved his arms. They didn't pay attention. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on. Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them, run after them, and chase them toward the barn. They only got scared and scattered into every direction except toward the barn.
None of his attempts to get them into the barn succeeded. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter; nothing he did could make them enter the one place where they could survive. Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they listen to me! Why don't they follow me! What's wrong with them! Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm! How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them!" He thought for a moment and realized that they just won't follow a human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them! Then I could show them the way! Then I could save them! They would follow me, not fear me. They would trust me, and I would lead them to safety."
He stood silently for a moment as the words that he just said reverberated back to himself in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them -- then I could show them the way -- then I could save them." He thought about his words, and remembered what he said to his wife: "Why would God want to be like us? That's so ridiculous!" Something clicked in his mind as he put these two together. It was like a revelation, and he began to understand the incarnation. We were like the geese -- blind, gone astray, perishing. God became like us so He could show us the way and make a way available to save us. That is the meaning of Christmas, he realized in his heart.
As the winds and blinding snow abated, his heart became quiet and pondered this epiphany. He understood what Christmas was all about. He knew why Christ had to come. Suddenly years of doubt and disbelief were shattered, as he humbly and tearfully kneeled in the snow, and embraced the true meaning of Christmas in humbled prayer.
And He's humbled Himself again...to be with us Our Lord becomes Eucharist. St. John Bosco said, "The longer you stay away from Communion, the more your soul will become weak, and in the end you will become dangerously indifferent." We all know those dangerously indifferent types, some of them we love dearly. May their hearts enter into the Warmth & Safety this Christmas...coming HOME for Christmas!
I love you, gentlest of Ways, who ripened us as we wrestled with You,
You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
You, the forest that always surrounded us.... Rainer Maria Rilke