Today’s commentary is written by Eileen Burke-Sullivan (http://onlineministries.creighton.edu).
Some of the implications of the mystery of the Incarnation are put forth in today’s readings. These are texts that the Church in the United States has less chance to ponder because this Sunday is replaced in the Dioceses here with the Feast of the Epiphany, which has its own themes and messages that offer yet different insights into the Incarnation. So what do these passages from the Book of Sirach, the Letter to the Ephesians and Prologue to John’s Gospel offer us to feast upon during this wonderful festival time? My meditation was drawn to three distinct but interwoven analogies for Christ that the readings offer: the Wisdom of God, the Glory of God and the Word (Logos) of God.
The Wisdom of God is described in the Sirach text in feminine terms and yet the Church chooses this text in today’s liturgy to point to Jesus and his role in the enterprise of salvation. Jesus is the person of God who “tents” with us – that is dwells in our midst as one of us. Jesus is the Wisdom of God made materially, humanly present on earth. If we want to understand how God thinks, in human terms – which are the only ones we understand or can receive – then we look to the person of Jesus who is how-God-thinks-made-flesh. But wisdom describes more than mere thought about something, Wisdom is the about weighing and judging, about choosing and acting. Wisdom is thinking rightly, choosing rightly, acting rightly. When one is wise, she knows about, she knows, she understands, she loves, she chooses and she acts toward to fullness of life, toward goodness and flourishing.
The Glory of God is described in Ephesians in the classical Hebrew term of holiness. Glory is what God is. Jesus’ Glory is every spiritual blessing possible rolled into one and delivered to humanity in human terms. That tiny baby that we meditated on last week on Christmas day is the ultimate Glory of God – in him God will be truly known and received. Jesus the homeless immigrant in Egypt is God’s glory made available to the nations, demonstrating the way of human fulfillment. Jesus dying on the cross is the glory of God pouring Himself out for all humanity. God is served perfectly in the human life lived minute for minute, hour by hour in the ordinary ways of human loving and caring that Jesus exercises. And that glory has been made available to us through Jesus, who granted it to all who would claim that glory by imitation and union.
The Logos or Word of God is the power of God-speech. When God speaks, a veritable explosion occurs and universes are born, stars explode and planets are shaped. Animals begin to crawl out of the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen combined into the life source of water. Crawling, walking on four legs and then two, developing – every developing into higher and more complex forms of life moving toward God’s very self. Jesus was identified in the early Church with this very essence of power – this force that issues forth from God’s mouth to cause the very becoming of all things. Jesus is the Word itself of creative, redemptive power. In his hand all of the wisdom and glory of God is concentrated and dispersed.
Every so often, I go to one of the internet sites that display the Hubble photographs in order to get a sense of the immensity of God’s power concentrated in the tiny babe of Bethlehem. What humility God shows. He who tosses stars and planets about like toys places Divine Existence in the body and soul of a lovely little boy conceived by and born from the body of a young maiden of Israel. Even more humility does God show to learn from us how to exercise his human limits – how to speak and walk, how to love as a human loves, how to build and destroy as a human does. God, source of all that is, chooses to join us in our limitations as one of the poor. This is the wisdom, the glory and the power of God . . . it shapes the human heart and shapes the universe of love. “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed God.”
“Grant us, O God, the wisdom to receive your Glory in our humanity – this day and every day.”