The Miracle of the Incarnation: God’s Personal Relationships

The Christmas season celebrates the Christian miracle of the Incarnation, almighty God becoming lowly man and eternal God assuming a mortal human nature. The God of power and might enters the world in the form of weakness as a helpless, dependent baby. The Lord who lives in the society of the Blessed Trinity where love circulates between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the never-ending giving and receiving of love enters into a humble human home to become a member of a human society—the family. God enters into human relationships when He becomes man. He joins a family, lives in a society, forms friendships, and creates a holy bond of fellowship with His disciples and followers. God is not a First Mover, a Clockmaker, or a remote deity, but a child in a family–a son related to all the relatives of his mother’s and foster father’s families.

weddingChrist in His human form is not only a member of the society of the family, the son of Mary and Joseph, but also a friend in the society of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus whose home He often visits. He belongs to a Jewish society, the tribe of Israel, and follows the traditions and laws handed down from Moses and the prophets. Christ forms his own society, the company of His disciples whom He leads and teaches to become apostles to evangelize all nations. God, then, becomes incarnate in the body to form close bonds and personal relationships of love with family, friends, and followers whom he embraces with special affection. The Incarnation reveals God’s great desire to be close and familiar to all who seek, know, follow, and love Him, and it sanctifies the family as the natural dwelling place of God.

Christ’s bond with His mother Mary reveals the intimate closeness of mother and son, so loving that God cannot say no to His mother at the marriage at Cana when she appeals to Him: “They have no wine”. God’s bond with Mary and Martha is so deep that Mary felt Lazarus would have lived if Christ had come earlier: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Sharing her great sorrow, Christ too mourns the loss of a beloved friend (“Jesus wept”), so touched by the sorrow of the sisters that He raises Lazarus from the dead. Christ’s bond with his disciples is also the same heartfelt union that goes beyond a formal teacher-disciple relationship, for Jesus calls them “friends,” those to whom he opens the depths of His heart and unburdens his soul. John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, lies close to the breast of Christ when He mentions his betrayal. St. Augustine experiences this closeness of God’s love on such a personal level that he writes in the Confessions, “You love us, Lord, as if we were the only one.” It is as if all who know Christ’s incarnate love feel like the many members of a family who all feel especially beloved like a favorite child, because everyone feels extraordinarily blessed and generously enriched. These are the relationships that Christ inspires in all who bond with Him.

In the Incarnation, Christ is the lover of souls, the bridegroom who seeks His beloved to enter into the mysterious oneness of spiritual love. The Church Fathers give to the Song of Solomon this allegorical reading: God is the Bridegroom and the soul is the bride, a union of intimacy that shares all the sensitivity and tenderness of marital love: “The voice of my beloved! Behold he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills, ” the bride rejoices. Just as the bride in the Song of Solomon awaits her beloved, the soul also longs for this union with God. As the Disciple says in Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, “My soul longs to receive your body; my heart yearns to be united to You.” The soul yearns for this relationship of love by adorning herself in the beauty of purity to receive her bridegroom: “Come, then, faithful soul; prepare your heart for your divine Spouse, that He may deign to come to you and dwell with you.” Throughout His human life, Christ touches hearts and wins souls with these most personal of human relationships. Mary of Bethany, for example, was so moved that she poured out all her expensive spikenard to wash the feet of her Lord as a small token of her gratitude for the greatness of Christ’s love.

The Incarnation makes possible all these personal human relationships, ties of affection, and intimate bonds between son and mother, Christ and beloved friends, master and disciple, and God and man. The miracle of Christmas reveals God as the Lord who enters history and becomes flesh in order to form these heart to heart unions with all men, to pour out all the love of his Sacred Heart–“burning furnace of charity”– for all who ask and seek, for all who have no wine, for all who all weep, for all who are burdened, for all who beg for forgiveness, for all who are possessed of demons, for all who thirst for the living water, and for all who pray for miracles. There is no limit or boundary to God’s relationships of love, and His gift at Christmas abounds and overflows for the whole world from Nazareth to the end of the earth and for all time throughout the ages of ages.

Mitchell Kalpakgian, Ph.D. has completed fifty years of teaching beginning as a teaching assistant at the University of Kansas, continuing as a professor of English at Simpson College in Iowa for thirty-one years, and recently teaching part-time at various schools and college in New Hampshire. As well as contributing to a number of publications, he has published seven books: The Marvelous in Fielding’s Novels, The Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature, The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization, An Armenian Family Reunion (a collection of short stories), Modern Manners: The Poetry of Conduct and The Virtue of Civility, and The Virtues We Need Again. He has designed homeschooling literature courses for Seton Home School, and he also teaches online courses for Queen of Heaven Academy and part-time for Northeast Catholic College.
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