Christmas is HERE
“The Word became flesh.” There is only one place in the world that has the privilege of adding one short word to this phrase: in the chapel built upon what is thought to have been Mary’s home in Nazareth is written, “Here the Word became flesh.” It was there that Mary said yes to the angel’s message and the Son of God was conceived in her virginal womb.
A few days ago, as I walked through my neighborhood and took in the streets and bridges, the ugly billboards and the beautiful gardens, the new construction, the Verizon trucks, the University, the people in their cars, the students hurrying and the man with no place to go, that word, “Here,” kept resounding in my heart. Here, in this place, for these people. He knew them all, and it was for them that he took on flesh.
Here the Word became flesh. Jesus chose to enter this world exactly how it is. He didn’t enter into an ideal world; he entered into this one. He isn’t surprised by any of it. He knows the movements of ideas and ideologies, the intractability of ancient divisions, the strength of friendships, the many hidden sacrifices made in love, and the secret depths of every heart. He is surprised by neither sickness nor epidemic, heroism nor cowardice, artificial ugliness nor stunning beauty.
He knows me, too—better than I know myself. He knows everything frail and fake and noble and kind, right down to the very core, and here, too, he decided to take on flesh. He is not easily scandalized, nor easily turned away.
Today I visited a man in the hospital who was so weak he could hardly speak. He was dressed as woman, and his swollen feet and scaly skin spoke of hard time on the streets. When we read the story of the birth of Christ, he listened with longing attention, and after we prayed, he placed his hand over his heart, to honor the newborn Savior dwelling there. Christ had found another humble manger to rest his head in. Here the Word became flesh.
May he find a welcome place in our hearts, too, poor as they are.
Keefe Piper joined the St. John Society in 2014. He then spent one year serving in ministry at the Newman Center at Oregon State. After that successful year we had to see him leave to Argentina where he evangelized tirelessly for two years. He is now in Washington, D.C. studying towards the priesthood.