As I was reflecting on St. Matthew’s account of the incarnation of God, Joan Osborne’s 1995 hit song, “One of Us” came to mind. In the chorus verse of the somewhat theologically controversial song, she sang repeatedly, “What if God was one of us?” What if he was a “slob” or a “stranger on the bus,” what if he was just a regular Joe? Today’s Gospel account answers the questions in the affirmative, God is indeed one of us, a person with an identity, son of Joseph of, son of David and Mary, the ever virgin. He took on our humanity through the “yes” of simple people and was born in an obscure place in Bethlehem. His name according to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:24 is Emmanuel which means “God is with us” (Mt 1:23).
God stoops so low to conquer (apology to Oliver Goldsmith). In becoming one with us, taking up our humanity, born into squalor and obscurity of the stable in Bethlehem, he demonstrates his love and humility, and so saves us. His love, because all he did was for our benefit, not his; it was a selfless giving. Humility, because the creator chooses to inhere our flawed human nature and poverty to show us the way to truth and life. God’s oneness with us came about because ones like us, Joseph and Mary, chose to listen and comply with the divine will despite the difficulty that came with their YES! A woman who is yet to live with her husband suddenly becomes pregnant. A man who had no intimate union with his betrothed is asked to be the father of the child she is pregnant with. God had to depend on free will fiats from Mary and Joseph to become one of us and with us, and to save us. This is a testimony to the power of willing to trust in God in all events of our lives, no matter the trials that accompany them.
We are going to celebrate the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ in a couple of days. I want to anticipate the solemnity by wishing you all a Merry Christmas! This is going to be my first Christmas in our loving and growing parish and I look forward to Christmas with you with the excitement of children gathered around Christmas tree to open their presents. I had a glimpse of your deep Christmas spirit this past weekend with Christmas celebrations by the Men’s Club on Saturday and Parish Family volunteers (with support from Men’s Club, K of C and CCW) organized Children Christmas party on Sunday. It is a pleasant signs of greater things to come as we enter properly into the Christmas season. Let’s keep the Christmas spirit in sight in the few days left of Advent. Seek to be one with God who became one with you on Christmas day.
Merry Christmas, friends!
In His Hope and Will,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP