A Blessed Feast of Nativity to every one (orginally Posted in ICON)
Metropolitan Yuhanon Mor Meletius
Incarnation of the Lord is a past event, but also it need to be a present reality and a future hope. No one ever thought God could do it, to become one like human. Centuries old tradition and teaching in the community of Jesus conditioned people’s understanding about the nature of the divine. To them God was a god of hosts (army), a god of valour, a god who punishes and a god who kills. Hence they said, God has to be a fearful God. That sense of fear began in the very first generation itself. Adam said, “I am afraid…” (Gen. 3: 10). Fear came to this world with estrangement from God. That resulted in estrangement of human from one another and from nature. Cain said to God, “… who ever sees me will kill me” (Gen. 4: 14 Also see 3:15). There are people who say God is a God of vengeance and that was why He drove human out of the Garden of Eden. Yes, that is what is written in the book of Genesis 3:24 (… He drove them out…). But that is how human understood it to have happened. An Old Testament student like me can only say that, that was the only way Old Testament writers were able to understand what happened. What actually happened was even before God came to the Garden to walk with human, they had gone out of the presence of God and hid themselves behind the tree. God came to the garden as it was customary to Him. Whether in the garden or outside the garden human wanted to be out of the sight of God. So God let human out of the Garden, until human was made ready to come near to God without fear, was the only option before God. Breaking of relationship with God brings in fear. It was not because of God, but was because of human act fear came to human culture.
When human sees God as a fearful God, he cannot think of God becoming human. Jesus tried to teach people that God is love and the One who goes out in search of the lost one even if He had ninety-nine left with Him. This love made God become Human. Incarnation was the only way God found effective to save humanity. He had to understand human, go through each stage humans went through in the past history to take humanity and with it the whole creation back to where it belonged. So even though Peter called the Incarnate God, “Messiah the Son of God”, Jesus preferred to call Himself “Son of Man”. This helped Jesus identify Himself with human and with human situations. He was born as a destitute without much of a safety and protection. Human took leaves to protect himself in the Garden and there was only torn up cloth to hide Jesus’ nakedness in the cave where Mary gave birth to Him. He became a vagrant and wanderer in His early days as Cain became one after he killed his brother. He could not go to Judea the land of Jews where His people were when returned from Egypt, but to Nazareth in Galilee the land of the Gentiles. He had no money to pay the tax just as many among us who are poor and needy. He was hungry and thirsty like many of us are. He was abused and mocked at like many humans in several parts of the world even as we speak. He was tried and killed for no good reason like many innocent people in the world who are being tortured and killed only just for being human. This is what God did for humans for them to become humans.
Jesus said, “I am the way, truth and life”. Yes, for us today He is the way, the way to be human on our part. The fathers of the Church said, “God became human that human shall become one like God”. Jesus has set an effective example for us to be human. We can be human only if we get one with others. Incarnation sets a possibility and model for us, that we can put ourselves in the shoes of others to help us and them what we all are to be and to become. Unfortunately instead, many of us want others to be what we think others must be. We fail to incarnate ourselves in to their situation. Parents want the children what all they think right for them instead of trying to see the world they grow up and will be living in. They many times do not see what they were created by God for. Husbands want their wives to be like what they think wife is to be instead of trying to see things through the eyes of the wife. This may happen the other way too on the part of the wives. Brothers and sisters, neighbours and friends all want others to be what they think others are to be without trying to understand them and their situation. The first human violated the identity of the fruit and ate it because they failed to understand the nature and purpose of the fruit. If one fails to incarnate in to the life and situation of another, that one will never understand the other and both will never be related. To be related is the only way of salvation or living in peace and joy. The world is becoming a difficult place for everyone and everything, as hatred, misunderstanding, rivalry and abuse of each other are live and active among us. This is because people are not related. Just as human were afraid of God, today human are afraid of one another. We are still in the generation of Cain who was afraid of his fellow beings. This calls to make incarnation a present reality in our daily life and a future hope to achieve. Each person trying to understand the other person and trying to be related without prejudice will only make this world a place for all of us to live in joy and peace. The feast of Christmas reminds us of the need to make incarnation not just a past event to be remembered and celebrated, but a present reality. We are called by this fest of nativity to try to understand others instead of seeing them through our coloured glass. This is what God did and we who were created in His image and likeness need to do this on our part in this world. Make incarnation a lifestyle and culture on our part and make our daily prayer saying “… Your Kingdom come” a sincere one. The King of the Kingdom came to us through incarnation and now we need to make it a present reality and a future hope in our midst. Once again Blessed Feast of Nativity and a New Year with God’s promises fulfilled to you all from my clergy, faithful and me in Thrissur Diocese. God bless!
(Feast of Nativity 2016)