As we commemorate the “advent,” the coming of God among us, let us reflect with joy and profound wonder on what this coming means — what it means for the Earth and for each and every one of us.
The prophet Isaiah foretells the good news of God’s coming, the beauty of His advent, with lyrical language that describes Creation’s fulfillment in sensuous splendor and implores his hearers to behold the saving presence of God among them:
“The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song…
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God.”[i]
Here is your God: the size of a grain of rice, dark circles for the start of His eyes, little limb buds stretching out, bitty brain waves beginning to grow.
Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the people whom Isaiah exhorted could not have imagined Almighty God, the Lord of vindication, coming in the womb of a virgin as a teeny tiny, limited human being. But God chose to bring His saving mercy, His life-giving Word, to His people in the flesh, to come among them — among us — as a fellow human being, choosing to live among us through every stage of human life in order to sanctify and redeem. A zygote, a blastocyst, an embryo, a fetus, a neonate — here is your God.
Please do not dismiss this as some kind of a political message brought to you in spiritual reflection form. Fear not, be strong. If we believe that Jesus Christ is both fully divine and fully human, and we want to explore the fullness of His humanity, then we surely must begin with the beginning, when the Word of God was made flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit in the virginal womb of His Blessed Mother. The humility of God should never be discounted, not if we are to truly regard ourselves as Christians, and what is more humble than the Creator and Master of the universe choosing to dwell bodily in the smallest possible human form?
Before Jesus Christ fell beneath the weight of the Cross on the way to His divine sacrifice in atonement for our sins, He first needed arms and legs. These He received in the quiet sanctuary of His mother’s womb. While Jesus was not yet one-inch tall, tiny limbs stretched out from His embryonic body and His fingers and toes were formed. He kicked, flipped, and swam at this stage of life, in the watery world of His forming. However, we know that Jesus, like any of us, was fully human before He developed arms and legs, because such things are not necessary for our humanity. The blind to whom Jesus would give sight, the deaf to whom Jesus would give sound, the mute to whom Jesus would give speech, all of these people were people, human persons, before they were given these abilities. Jesus, too, was fully human before His sensory organs were fully developed and His brain and muscles fully formed.
“In the hidden world of the womb, the Creator developed His own eyes with which to look and see from within Creation, beginning with the dim light that penetrated through His mother’s body. He developed His own little ears with which to hear, first the sounds of His mother’s heartbeat and then muffled voices and music, learning and loving as He listened. Taste buds grew for the enjoying of food, giving God His first tastes of sweets and bitters through amniotic fluid, flavored with the meals of figs, olives, lentils, and fish that His mother ate… while His human hands with all of their little fingers were taking shape, hands that would give God the ability to touch. The first thing that God physically touched was His own human face.”
(It’s Good to Be Here[ii].)
When He didn’t look fully human, but more like a tadpole or an extraterrestrial, Jesus experienced His first images, sounds, tastes, and feelings, capable of sensing both pleasure and pain in the fullness of His humanity in that particular time and that particular place. Through the Mystery of the Incarnation, God came here to be intimately united with us in divine love. This truth causes darkness to become light, silence to open in song, the crippled of heart to leap with joy, and the wastelands to blossom. As Isaiah foretold: “The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty grounds, springs of water”[iii] because God is here.
Let us rejoice with the coming of the Lord among us. Let us remember the preparations of Mary, the Lord’s mother and ours, and be strengthened by the Holy Spirit as we make straight the way of God.
A prayer for the third Sunday of Advent,
while lighting the Shepherds’ candle, symbolizing joy:
Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the World — help us to see You in all people. Lord Jesus, You are the Song of the Angels — help us to hear Your joy even in the bleakest night. Lord Jesus, You are divine victory — help us to walk in Your ways. Through the marvelous fruits of Creation, may we be filled with the sense of Your presence; by generously loving others, may we feel the gentle touch of Your mercy.
My hands are feeble, Lord, as once were Yours: strengthen them with faith. My knees are weak, Lord, as once were Yours: make them firm with hope. Comfort me in my fears, Lord, and open my heart to the sacred beauty of this life and the eternal wonder of Your love.
© 2019 Christina Chase
[i] Isaiah 35:1-4
[ii] Christina Chase; It’s Good to Be Here: A Disabled Woman’s Reflections on God in the Flesh and the Sacred Wonder of Being Human; Sophia Institute Press © 2019
[iii] Isaiah 35:7
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.