Given this backdrop, it is easy to forget what is absolutely unique and remarkable about the Christian faith. The incarnation. Christianity is the only faith tradition that holds at its very core the mystery that God became in-carnus, or literally, in physical flesh. Everything else that Christians believe is anchored on this – Jesus is “true God and true man.” We affirm this statement in our creed at every church service. And, again, with our routine affirmation, we risk becoming de-sensitized to the radical significance of God who did not “deem equality with God as something to be grasped at.” God does not tell us we should despise being human or that we should strive to stop being human and become God instead. Rather, God tells us that being human is good, so radically and completely good that He chooses to become one with us. God becomes flesh, human. And by becoming human flesh with us, God deals with us in a concrete, tangible way – through the flesh – through our five senses.
But, the incarnation is not just a single historical event that happened over 2000 years ago. The incarnation happens now – today. God comes to us in our human flesh now – today. God deals with us in a concrete and tangible way now. It is this Second Coming – God who becomes one with us and transforms us as he transforms all of creation – that is the focus of our readings today. Regardless of which liturgical year we begin, the readings of the First Week of Advent always focus on the promise of the Second Coming of the Kingdom of God.
Just as the incarnation is not meant to simply point to one moment in history, so too does the Second Coming point to more than some distant point into the future. The Spirit of the Lord that Isaiah speaks of is the Holy Spirit. And, as Christians, we know that the Holy Spirit has already been sent and already resides within us. As Isaiah prophesied, we have right now – today – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit to know and fear (and love) the Lord. As Isaiah prophesied, the historical Jesus did not judge the people he encountered in Galilee by appearance or decide by hearsay. But, then again, Jesus does not judge you and me today by appearance or decide by hearsay. Nor will Jesus judge us in the future based on our appearance or hearsay.
The incarnation points to God-with-us in a radical way in one moment in history. But, the incarnation also points to God-with-us in a radical way in your human flesh and mine in the present moment. And, the incarnation points to God-with-us into the future, transforming us and bringing us more and more to himself, to the fullness of all. Today’s readings, which sound like some pipe dream that might exist in some distant future, already exist in some fashion today. How and why we don’t fully see and can’t fully comprehend. But, the promise of the Second Coming is at once the future and is also now, the present. As implied in the gospel, we too are the recipients of Jesus’ blessing – we too have eyes that see and ears that hear.
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