Reflection for Monday, December 29, 2003: Fifth day in the Octave of Christmas.

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Rodriguez, Luis, S.J.
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These first days of the Christmas season can be a bit heavy on special celebrations, as we celebrate one after another St. Stephen, St. John the evangelist and the Holy Innocents (or this year the feast of the Holy Family.) Today is "just" the fifth day in the octave of Christmas, which offers us an opening to focus again on what we remember and celebrate during this very special season, namely, the Incarnation and Nativity, God's giant step to bridge separation. The moment is so rich and deep in meaning, that I will limit myself to only one dimension of the incarnation/birth of Jesus: its uniqueness.||The fact that it happened only once would not qualify the event as unique, since that is true for all human conceptions. But Jesus' conception is presented to us as uniquely extraordinary in other respects, aside from the very important fact that it took place without a human father, which is by itself uniquely extraordinary. If we look at the event in the context of salvation history, we discover further uniqueness. Advent readings have presented us with conceptions that occurred in the course of that history through divine intervention: Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist were born of women, who were barren prior to God's intervention. Each one of these conceptions was God's answer to a woman's desire and prayer. By contrast, as Luke presents it to us, the conception of Jesus was a woman's answer to God's desire and this makes the event uniquely extraordinary, even as it enhances Mary's key role in it.| There is yet another level -a deeper one- at which Jesus' conception stands out as most unique, because the very meaning of being conceived is radically different in Jesus' case. For us being conceived ultimately means being placed in existence without being consulted (how could we, before we existed?) By contrast Incarnation is a very deliberate choice. God did not need to become human through conception in order to exist, and even less in order to be happy. In fact it was precisely through being conceived that God became capable of suffering. Incarnation is indeed most unique also at its deepest level.| I fully realize that my comments do not address today's readings. But, as we were approaching Christmas, we may have been distracted by a host of peripheral preparations that left less room in our awareness to ponder what we were preparing to celebrate. Then after Christmas we have been served several specific celebrations that do not focus on the incarnation and birth themselves. So I felt that reflecting on this one aspect of the Incarnation -its uniqueness- would not come too late to refocus ourselves during this still active Christmas season.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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