Encountering Christ as the Word Made Flesh Among Us – Reflection for 1 SEP 2019
In our liturgy, we conclude readings from Scripture with the phrase, “This is the word of the Lord.” We encounter God as He has revealed Himself to His people each time we open the Bible. As we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our readings, we also expect to see the Incarnation of God in Jesus revealed just as the Risen Jesus opened the Scripture to the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27).
John begins his Gospel by describing Jesus as the Word of God made flesh who came and dwelt with humanity. This beautiful description of the mystery of the Incarnation awes and inspires me every Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ. Unfortunately, I also am tempted to confine the mystery of the Incarnation to Christmas. Instead, we are invited to encounter the Incarnation each time we read Scripture.
Last week, we explored what it means to encounter Christ as His Body, the Church. In this way, we are invited not only to encounter the Incarnation but also to participate in the Incarnation. The Body of Christ, the Church, participates in the Incarnation as the Word of God revealed in Scripture is made flesh in us. We are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the image and likeness of Christ as we invite the grand story of Scripture to be the defining story of our lives. Paul describes this as no longer being conformed to this world but instead being transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may corporately know and do the will of God as the Body of Christ (Rom 12:1-8).
Finally, we are sent out into our community as the image of Christ. We participate in the Incarnation as the Word of God is made flesh once again in the Body of Christ to bring light to those who sit in darkness and to walk in the way of peace. The Church has sometimes described the role of the celebrant in the Eucharist as acting in persona Christi, that is in the same way that an actor “becomes” someone else on stage, the celebrant “becomes” or speaks in the voice of Christ in the Eucharist. The danger of this view is that when confined to the celebration of the Eucharist, it tends toward a clericalism that is not healthy for the Body. When we combine this view with an understanding of the priesthood of all believers, we can see that we are all called and formed to go into the world in persona Christi as the Word of God is made flesh in us. We are a Eucharistic people gathered, blessed, sent, and given to the world to manifest Christ as Good News to a broken and beautiful world.
May we all encounter Christ as the Word is made flesh among us!