Jesus: fully God AND fully human – reflections on the readings for January 12, 2011
Hebrews 2:14-18; Psalm 105:1-4,6-9; Mark 1:29-39
Jesus, incarnate, is Jesus fully human
The title of this post might seem obvious, but for some reason all during Christmas the whole idea of the incarnation of Jesus really hit home. He became more real to me as a man. It reminds me of something that happened over the Christmas vacation.
I blog regularly about my favorite author, Louisa May Alcott, and I happen to live near Concord, MA where her family homestead is located (and it is a year-round museum). The public library in Concord has many of her handwritten letters and I went to look at them. One letter in particular about the death of her sister really moved me so I hand copied it. In the process of doing that, I thought about the letters I had seen from my mother’s relatives who had lived during the time of Louisa May Alcott (which was throughout the 19th century) and Louisa suddenly became like one of those relatives rather than the far away (and dead) author whom I so esteemed. She became more real to me and I felt closer to her.
This is how meditating upon the incarnation of Christ has made me feel closer to Jesus. He is no less God to me, but his humanity is more real.
Hebrews 2:14-18 illustrates the meaning of a human Jesus
As a result, today’s readings really spoke to me. Do you ever have times when you’re reading the scriptures and it’s like God is chattering at you with all these insights? That’s what today was like.
The first reading from Hebrews spoke of how we as humans “share in blood and Flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them . . .” Jesus shares our flesh and blood. He felt the cold and heat, like we do. He felt the rain against his skin, like we do. He probably got sun burn living in the desert – many of us have experienced that. The body of Jesus embodies God, who cannot be contained, but He never shied away from experiencing even the most mundane things.
Hebrews goes on to say that in order to defeat the Devil, He had to defeat the power of death by dying Himself. He had to experience everything we experience to unite us to Himself and to triumph over the thing we can’t – death.
This reading ends by saying the following: “Because He Himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.” Jesus suffered real wounds, real tears, real mental anguish, and He triumphed ultimately over it all. To me this says that as long as I cling to Jesus, there is always hope, even when life tempts me to despair. The incarnation of Jesus is one of the most profound mysteries that we can focus on.
How does the humanity of Jesus relate to the Eucharist?
The beauty of meditating upon the humanity of Jesus is that it is helping me to appreciate the Eucharist all the more. The Eucharist is a piece of bread that I can eat, that I can totally consume. And Jesus is that bread; He allows me to totally consume Him – He WANTS me to consume Him. When I think of that piece of bread being digested and flowing through my own blood . . . it’s an amazing experience of intimacy.
Jesus’ healing touch
Moving on to the Gospel reading, we read of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law of her fever. What struck me here is that same theme of humanity and intimacy – Jesus only needed to say the word and she would be healed. But instead, He grasped her by the hand and helped her up, and the fever left her. He knew the power of human touch. He so totally understands our need for touch to impart intimacy. I believe this is one reason why we are asked to physically consume the Eucharist for it makes the experience of receiving Jesus more real, if we able to see Him in the bread.
This weekend, while on retreat with confirmation students from our parish, I saw our pastor in a new and wonderful light. I realized through listening to him talk that every moment of his life is prayer. The Gospel tells us that Jesus got up before dawn to go to a deserted place to pray. I thought immediately of our pastor, who gets up every morning at 4am and walks 4 miles through the town. When I asked him how he was able to do that, he smiled and said it’s because he has such a rich inner life. And I knew that was true. Just like Jesus, Fr. Mike rises before dawn, walks through the deserted streets and prays to his Heavenly Father, just like Jesus did.
The spiritual life is so rich, and it becomes even richer when I connect the spiritual world with the physical one, the one that God so lovingly made.