given at an ecumenical gathering in January, 2002, St Benedict Church, Baltimore MD

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I blithely agreed to speak, trusting that the Lord would give me something to say.

Then the wonder set in.

I wonder what I’m going to say. What is there to say about the Incarnation, about God become man? What can possibly express the mystery of it?

Do I talk about God being debased so that man can be elevated?

Do I talk about God in the flesh, a baby, a zygote, just a bunch of stem cells?

Do I talk about the Incarnation of God within us through the Eucharist?

How about God being in us so that we may live and move and have our being in Him?

What is there to say about a God who loves in such a strange and fascinating way as to become incarnate?

And why talk about it now? Sure, the Incarnation is more evident at Christmastime, but we celebrate the feast in March, when spring is new and our earthly cycle of life is just beginning.

Just postpone the talk.

But then I think it’s supposed to be a meditation. Anything can be a meditation. I can ruminate and pose a few thoughts, read a poem, do a dramatic show, or simply hand out a few papers and sit in silence while everybody meditates on his own.

In the end, I decided to do just a few of these. We’ll start with a poem, then a reading, then the highest joy – a singing meditation, the glory of God come among us through song. Bob and Mary graciously agreed to sing, and if we know the words we can join in, though I heard a rumor that something they sing will be Czech, so…….maybe better just to listen!

Who is there on earth to tell the tale?

Who is there on earth to rip the curtain and say

It is your God!

Flailing in the hay with matted hair

Not good enough for a room

And consigned to a stall

With muck and stench

The only light the angels’ song

And the glisten of a tear from

A young mom marveling at the beauty

Of a long awaited child

And a worried husband

Wondering how to ward off

The insulting and the apathetic

To protect God,

God in a little one

With pudgy hands and human sweat?

Who is there on earth to speak of it?

Amidst the unconcern of a horde

That won’t sacrifice an ion of comfort

To make room for a pregnant girl

In haste to welcome God?

Who is there to declare, "Look, it is your king!"

A few misfits

in from the fields

To see a question raised

By a weird sparkle in the sky?

Who is there to defy the snares of etiquette

And yell that Mighty God is in this flesh?

People might look askance

And be discomfited by the hair-raising

Spectacle of it all,

The unexpected promise

Of something more than we want

(or just what we want)?

Who is there to think of God

Ruling from a crib

With fists now grasping for His mother’s grip

But soon to be driven into wood?

God in these insignificant features

Cute in a baby

But ultimately inconsequential?

Who on earth is there who can break from presents

Long enough to see the gift?

Who is willing to kneel in a manger

For more than a moment

Not just to look in awe

But to change the diaper, too?

To smell the reality of manhood

And not just the sweetness of a baby’s breath?

Who is there to trek through treacherous sands

And rub grit from bleary eyes

For the sake of a God

Who builds wagons – an automaker –

Rather than palaces?

Who is there to be guided by a child

Who is too big for britches

And bigger than an ego

Nurtured by false hopes and promises

Of a more immediate gain?

Who is there to stand up and cry out

I love the Lord!

More than meat on Friday

More than sex without love

More than football on New Year’s Day

More than the opinion of my friends

More than the job

More than family peace

More than the appearance of piety

And more than rest?

He didn’t get much

In that stall

In that church

In that wedding

Or on that hill.

And who is there to notice?

To give more than a glance

To a God incarnate

In the manger

In the mangy

In the little

In the desert

In the hoosegow

In the fancy box

And in the desolation of the wail

"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

painting by Beate Heinen, 1986

This reflection was presented on the Feast of Saint Elizabeth Seton, 2002, so these few segments are included:

"Annunciation Day I shall be made one in Holy Communion with Him Who said, 'Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, you can have no part with Me.' I count the days and hours. Yet a few more of hope and expectation, and then..…..At last, God is mine and I am His! Now let all go its round. I have received Him!"

She was able to receive Holy Communion one last time on January 1, Feast of the Circumcision. The previous night the Sister who watched with her urged her to take a refreshing drink to cool her feverish throat. She, whose heart was set on the coming Communion with her dearest Lord, brushed aside the drink, answering, "Never mind the drink. One Communion more and then Eternity."

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