Ecumenical Corner: Did you do something good?
I wish you a Merry Christmas that keeps Jesus in its center and around its edges. I pray for you a Happy New Year that offers challenges and promises met and fulfilled.
The Word was God and became a man and that man is God with a resurrected human body and personality. In the Roman Catholic liturgy there is a prayer the priest says while putting wine and water into the chalice: By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Those who know say these few words capture and state the entire purpose of the Incarnation and salvation history. God did not come to us only to forgive our sins, which He does, but more importantly to share His divine life commingling His God/man person with us in such closeness as to change us into man/God. It is not for nothing that the ancient hymn exults:
King of kings yet born of Mary as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture in the Body and the Blood
He will give to all the faithful His own self for heav'nly food.
For the believer, the celebration of the Incarnation is about the assimilation of us by Jesus and Jesus by us, the miracle of shared lives. But Jesus is not only Savior of believers but of every man, woman and child before, now and to come. He is the judge of all nations and peoples and he uses the same criteria to weigh the judgment of each person: Did you feed the hungry? Did you give drink to the thirsty? Did you clothe the naked? Did you fight for justice for those unjustly accused? Did you care for the sick and lonely? Did you welcome the stranger (read "foreigner!)? Amazingly Jesus totally identifies with those in need so that the accusation and condemnation is: When you did not help your brothers and sisters, you did not help me. Jesus assimilates the entire human race of all times and judges all the same way: What you failed to do for the least of my brethren, you failed to do for me.
Remarkably, the the Incarnation, known and unknown, is for the Atheist, Agnostic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Christian and all believers of whatever philosophy and religion. All will be held to the same simple but profound Jesus rule of life: did you do some good when the opportunities presented themselves? If yes, come blessed and inherit eternity!
Now that makes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.