The Word became flesh...

Christmas' Mass at the Cathedral. I forgot to ask Fr Mswane (administrator of the Cathedral) which readings we would be using among the different possible choices for the feast. I asked him during Mass. He just said: "the Word became flesh". He probably knew that would be my choice. It is my episcopal motto. It is written on my coat-of-arms and... on the bishop's chair in the Cathedral. It is on the door of the bishop's car and it makes people ask... "what does it mean?". I explain it is taken from John 1:14.

I believe Christmas is difficult. It requires a different spirit from the one at Easter. It requires silence in front of this baby being born for us. Silence and... wonder. God being born among us...!

Christmas is also difficult because of "the way" he chose to be born among us. 

He did not choose to be son of a king or a member of a royal family. He is not also the son of a priest. He chose to be the son of Joseph and Mary.

He did not choose to be born in a big town either. He could have been born in Jerusalem... around the temple. Instead he chose to be born in Bethlehem and... by the way, no one really was ready to welcome him.

Soon he would experience the tragedy of having to leave to another country when Herod would start looking for the child to have him killed.

These are not places where we would normally be looking for God. These are not places where we would be looking forward to listen to what he has to tell us.

We normally look for directions from those in authority... at civil level, religious level, in our communities and families. Those who have made it, who have succeeded in life, famous people become role models.  

The Word became flesh among those who do not seem to have much to tell us. They do not really count. They normally do not have a voice in our communities and society.

He became fragile and vulnerable. As fragile as a newly born child can be. Who wants a "fragile" God? We want the all powerful!)

He became dependant on others… (what kind of God is that one?!)

He became poor. Would we listen to a poor person? Does he or she have anything to tell us? We would try to give a hand to someone in need but... listen to what they have to say?

He became a refugee.

If becoming one of us is already a challenge to our faith, identifying himself with the last in the community … is a bit too much! We love to stand in front of a crib but whoever has been in that situation knows it is not romantic at all. The all-powerful becomes all-powerless and vulnerable. At the mercy of others.
That is why Christmas is so difficult.
It is more than a feast. It is the way we are invited to live our faith: looking for Jesus there where he chose to reveal himself. When we do that, it is Christmas, no matter what day of the year.

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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