We are almost at the end of the intensive preparation for Christmas. Perhaps it might be the best time to reflect over the Nativity of Christ ‘the Word became flesh.’ In the Gospel we read about the infancy narrative. While St. Matthew begins his gospel with the Genealogy of the Messiah, St. Luke narrates more of a colourful Christmas with the sheep and shepherds, shining star and wise kings, holy angels and the heavenly music. For St. Mark it is altogether a different task of beginning with the proclamation of John the Baptist followed by the baptism of Jesus at the river of Jordan with nothing that of the infancy narrative. Whereas St. John as usual interprets it with a high theology of the concept of ‘Word Becoming Flesh.’ Perhaps John 1: 14 is the culmination of his theology which he narrates from John 1: 1-13.
St. John begins his gospel with “In the beginning was the Word…” Most of the Scripture Scholars are of the opinion that this denotes the Book of Genesis 1: 1 “In the beginning…” He further confirms that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He also identifies this ‘Word’ with the pronoun ‘he’ probably to bring a connection between Old Testament and New Testament.
“Who is this ‘he’?”
‘He’ is Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary and Joseph, the Word who became flesh.
St. John writes “All things came into being through him.” The same is seen in the Book of Genesis. The Word is so powerful that God said “let there be… and it was so.” This mighty power of the ‘Word’ is further continued throughout the New Testament also. This is been seen clearly in Hebrew 4: 12 “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
a. The Word of God is alive and active
It is totally true and is proved further in the Gospel that the Word of God is alive and active. For example: “Talithacum, which means “Little girl, get up!” and immediately the girl got up” (Mk 5: 41-42); “He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm” (Mk 4: 39).
b. Sharper than any two edge sword
The Pharisees and Sadducees who listened him were often disturbed in mind because his words pierced through their heart pointing out their double-standard lives. For example: “When the Scribes and Chief priests realised that he had told his parable against them…” (Parable of the Wicked Tenant, Lk 20: 9-19).
c. Word is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart
Often in the gospels we see that Jesus knows the inner disposition of the people. For example: “He knew what they were thinking…” (Mt 12: 25).
It is this same “Word” that has become flesh (Jn 1: 14) which we celebrate during Christmas. Christmas denotes the self-giving love of the Almighty God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” (Jn 3: 16). Today our celebration of Christmas is a celebration of joy and happiness. But it not so on the first Christmas. Mary and Joseph who celebrated the first Christmas along with the new born babe had a Christmas of tears and shattered dreams, a Christmas of rejection and loneliness, and a Christmas of utter poverty and self-giving. As O. Henry would say in his well-known short story ‘The Gift of the Magi.’
Yes, Christmas is not merely a celebration of external preparations and joy rather it is a joy of spiritual poverty and total self-giving. Today how many of us can have a celebration of Christmas just like that of Mary and Joseph? Can we turn the moments of rejection and loneliness into a celebration of Christmas for the greater glory of the Word became flesh? Are we ready to forgo some of our desires and dreams for the betterment of other? If yes, only then we can have a meaningful Christmas like that of the first Christmas at Bethlehem. Hence let me conclude this with the poem of Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
“I saw a stable, low and very bare,
A little child in a manger.
The oxen knew Him, had Him in their care,
To men He was a stranger”
Let us not have this pathetic situation of not recognising the Creator of the universe in the stable. Rather let this Christmas be an opportunity to recognize Him within us and in others.