We are coming to the end of an entire liturgical season in which we celebrate the incarnation. There are so many layers to this that we can’t possibly explore them all. Perhaps because of that, it is easy to miss some of the most basic lessons.
For instance, words matter. Just as God’s words of creation took flesh in light, stars, seas, dry land, animals and humans, and just as the very Word of God became flesh here on earth, our words also take on flesh. Unfortunately, sometimes the words of bullies take on flesh with disastrous results, even suicides, of those bullied. Other times a word of healing or compassion actually brings healing and compassion. Words of hope actually bring hope. The way we talk to ourselves, the way we talk to and about others, the way we talk to and about God – it all matters.
And it will continue to matter long after the Christmas season is over. Words are important. So how can I help the Word to continually become flesh in my own words and actions?
Especially in a toxic atmosphere of insults, degradation, and vilification, I need to resist the impulse to hit back verbally, to insult, demean, or disrespect any person (or any entire class of people). I need to pray for the strength to imitate Jesus in standing up for others when they are being insulted or disrespected, even at cost to myself. I need to be a disciple that brings God’s healing power to bear in every interaction. I need to meet, talk with, learn from, and befriend those who are of different races, cultures, economic status, and backgrounds than mine so I can hear the word that God speaks to them and expand my perspectives. I need to be a transparent instrument of the Word become flesh.
Wow, this is hard! It’s much easier to concentrate on the tree, the food, the gifts, and the parties. But that is not the heart of what Christmas is about, nor the message of Epiphany (which means “showing”). We must go much farther and do much more in order to fulfill this mission of discipleship. And because it is indeed so hard, we need each other, so that as a community we can challenge, support, and hold each other accountable in the work of the reign of God. We need prayer and deep reliance on the Christ who is embodied within each of us. We need open eyes, courageous mouths, soft hearts, and unafraid wills.
This is the vision placed before us during this season and throughout the year. As you put away the decorations and sigh over the gained weight, can you refuse to put away the challenge? Can you join me in committing yourself today, in the present, to diligence in becoming a transparent mouthpiece of the Word made flesh? God needs your voice, your actions, your words. Let’s refuse to let the Word be silenced just because Christmas is over.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.