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Father Muench Says...

Jesus became man, blessing humanity

Jan. 16, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I have decided today to look back again at all that happened this year over Christmas time. Do you have some good memories of all that happened this Christmas? I suspect you do. I am certain that the reason that I am thinking of this today is because I am still receiving Christmas cards. I love Christmas cards. I would love to receive Christmas cards all year long.

When I think of Christmas cards, I think of them as a statement of faith in our belief that Jesus became one of us. This is called our belief in the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus accepted our humanity. Jesus took on our flesh. Our humanity is blessed and sacred because Jesus was once of us. This changes who I am. Jesus was once one of us, and what a powerful influence that must have on how I should live my life.

While speaking with some Confirmation students recently, I thought of this example: it is like playing on a sports team with a particularly outstanding All-Star. I was thinking that someone might brag – I played on a team with LeBron or say Tom Brady. However, when it comes to life, I am one of a people with whom Jesus lived.

Thomas Merton writes this idea so much better than I: “It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes! Yet, with all that, God Himself, gloried in becoming a member of the human race. A member of the human race! To think that such a commonplace realization should suddenly seem like the news that one holds the winning ticket in a cosmic sweepstakes.”

On the weekday and Sunday Masses between Christmas and the Epiphany, the first Scripture readings are taken from St. John’s First Letter.

This is the same St. John who wrote the fourth Gospel. We believe that St. John, called the Evangelist so as not to confuse him with the Baptist, was the youngest of the apostles of Jesus. He certainly lived much longer than the other apostles. His writings were probably written between the years 90-100 A.D.

This First Letter of St. John was written to give encouragement to those new Christians. This Letter is a magnificently beautiful message, especially of God’s great love. Let me share a bit from the Fourth Chapter with you. John wants to make certain that we realize that God loves us. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection in us.”

St. John urges us to recognize how blessed we are. We are a loved people; we are a special people. God loves us so much that God promised to remain in us. And we discover God’s love best by loving one another. And this love that we bring into our lives, our families and our communities truly brings it to perfection.

Again, St. John: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”

Jesus spoke of God – God as his Father and his love for his Father. The apostles evangelized this world by teaching all of God’s great love for all. Many young people continue to want to know just who God is. St. John challenges us to realize that when we love and live in love, we will find God. God will be with us and remain with us.

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