In So Many Words
I was reading a Biblical reflection when word came that my niece's baby had just been born. The author of the reflection pointed out that the first sound we hear in the Bible is God breathing in the darkness. My thoughts wandered to my niece's baby breathing in the darkness for nine months. Gradually I came to realize that both mysteries are related.
In the mystery of the gentle breathing of an unborn baby, and in the mystery of the baby breathing in the manger, we are reminded that God breathes anew in the darkness of our lives. The birth of Jesus and of all babies is an incarnational event. His birth is made possible by Mary when the Holy Spirit breathed upon her and invited her to become the mother of God. The marvel of the Incarnation was that it didn't take place in the temple or the tent of meeting but in a young Nazarene.
Jesus has assumed our humanity, our limitations and our frailty. It's through our humanness and limitations that we make our energized response to the Gospel, that we go on affirming and being affirmed, sustaining and empowering, forgiving and being forgiven. We are part of the reign of the divine in history; we participate in its mystery. That's reason enough to live in gratitude and ecstatic joy. The ultimate is now present in the ordinary. Emmanuel is "God with us." In our daily encounters we are made divine.
In the coming of Jesus into our world, the silence of centuries is broken. The Word of God has taken on human flesh, and this is fragile. God is no longer to be sought in the clouds as the men of Galilee thought (Acts 1:10) but here in the flesh, in a birth, in a grave, in our daily encounters, in the simple joys of life, in the laughter and tears of the poor. God now dwells among us. In becoming human, God has shared our condition to the point of sharing our death.
The birth of Jesus and of all babies is an incarnational event.
The Christmas feast, which we are soon to celebrate, emphasizes the gift of new life, new energy and new hope for our world. The radical healing of God's grace goes beyond our personal sins. The blocks and barriers, the wars and frustrations that cripple and prevent us from believing in ourselves can and must be healed.
The feast of Christmas is calling us to live anew the mystery of the Incarnation in our lives. It's calling us to become centers of creative energy, to breathe new energy into our war-torn world, so that together our collective energies may transform our lives, world and cosmos. We must hear again the sound of God breathing in the darkness.
Columban Sr. Kathleen Coyle is now in Ireland after teaching theology in the East Asian Pastoral Institute in the Philippines.