The first time I ever started figuring this incarnation concept out was during Lent a few years ago. Lent isn’t usually the time that we focus on that in the church, but it was when I first needed to know the incarnation was a thing. When it hit me, I said to my friend “but that means the incarnation changes absolutely fucking everything,” and it does. That’s the point of the incarnation, this God becoming man but also being God. Fully human, fully divine.
A friend of mine gifted me the first volume of the Word of Fire Bible by Word of Fire Catholic Ministries, and it has been just the right thing for me. I’m thankful my friend thought of me and I’ve been reading it and am probably half-way through Matthew. So I have read past the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus shares the principles of his Kingdom, which are so different to the principles of this world. He says that he came to fulfill the law rather than to abolish it, and I’ve never really understood that. I’ve bitched about my issues with the law, and those still remain somewhat, because the law seems to oppress a whole lot of people.
Bishop Barron’s commentary on it was quite useful to my understanding of it: Israel knew itself to be the people with the definite mission to become holy and thereby to render the world holy. But instead, Israel fell into greater and greater sins; and instead of being the catalyst for the conversion of the world, the world was continually overwhelming and enslaving Israel (p. 51). God created the world not because God needed to, but because, as Fr. Mike Schmitz said in the Bible in a Year Podcast from Ascension Press, but because God wanted someone to share the blessed life with (episode from 1 January, 2022). Of course, we know what happened after a short while.
It’s a story that involves a man, a woman, and a serpent, dragon, or leviathan. Take your pick, it’s the same thing. The one thing I had to learn before I could understand the concept of original sin is that this whole fiasco isn’t over a woman eating an apple because a serpent told her too. The point is that these people God had created in order to share blessed life with had gone after forbidden knowledge and therefore it had broken the relationship. Original sin is all about humanity’s relationship with God and the break in that relationship, and nothing to do with an apple. The poetry here uses eating forbidden fruit as a metaphor to explain what happened, which is a literary device commonly used in poetry.
The law wasn’t perfect, so Jesus came to perfect it rather than throw it out. The Kingdom of Isreal wasn’t doing so well because, as Barron states, they kept going further and further into a downward spiral. I know and understand this spiral well. I know what it’s like to get sucked into something deep and evil, and to not be able to get myself out. This is why Jesus came! To deliver Israel from their sins, to deliver me from mine, to deliver the world from theirs. He also came to perfect the law that nobody was able to keep because of their sin.
So here comes Christmas, I’ve spent Advent in anticipation of this miracle, and now, Jesus is here! This is a game changer. Despite my earnest attempts to know Jesus, it’s only in the last few years that I’ve really gotten very far with that, and yet, Jesus is still here for me personally. I was seeking, but it was hard to seek Jesus when I was seeking in the wrong places with the wrong people. Jesus is here to change my life, to deliver me from the sins that I kept getting tangled further and futher into. I might also mention that Jesus also gave me his mother, Mary, who has been helping undo the knots in my life.
As I walk into Epiphany and beyond, I’m going to walk with Jesus.
Barron, Robert in “The Word on Fire Bible: The Gospels.” Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, 2020.
Schmitz, Mike in “The Bible in a Year Podcast,” 1 January 2022, Ascension Press (accessed from the “Hallow” app).