"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." -St Irenaeus of Lyon

Some Considerations Relative to the Incarnation

I’m in the middle of a rather significant move, so I have opted to repost an older reflection initially titled “Putting on Otherness.”  Relative to the questions of how the Church responds and relates to poverty, the question about our commitment to radical identification remains centered.  Additionally, in thinking about how love requires restraint, I have found it expressly helpful to reflect on the Incarnation.

Over the last several months, I have been repeatedly struck by the paradox of the Incarnation. Christ, in supreme humility, does not count equality with God a thing to be grasped and takes on our human flesh. The Transcendent God accepts the limitations of our humanity. The Uncontainable One is contained in the womb of the Virgin. The Great One becomes small. Of His own will, Christ becomes human to show us the way to be human.

But consider that we are invited to put on Christ. We are invited to put on the Divine. We are invited to put on Humility. We are invited to put on Love. We are invited to put on something fundamentally different than ourselves.

It’s incredible.

But Otherness invites change because it calls us towards something different. Sometimes it can be so much easier to pursue growth and change on our own terms. I cannot begin to tell you how many changes I have pursued because I thought the change would be fun, that it would be a chance for me to really shine, that I could really have things my way if only I had this one thing slightly different. It is easier to imagine the world outside of us as being different rather than deeply altering the world inside of us.

As much as Christ is like us, He differs fundamentally from us. His identification with us allows us to transform ourselves towards His likeness. But so often, we only want to put on the parts of Christ that seem to be most like us rather than embracing His radical transformation. We tend to see limits rather than God-empowered possibilities. We tend to see darkness rather than God-provided light. We tend to see death rather than God-raised life.

We can resist opportunities for us to see the world differently. Yet we have to wonder about what makes Christ different from us so that we too can be transformed by that Otherness towards greater union with God.

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