Ronald Rolheiser writes of a 4-year-old girl who awakes one night frightened, convinced that monsters and spooks are all around her. She ran to her parents’ room where her mother calmed her down and, taking her by the hand, led her back to her own room, telling her “You don’t have to be afraid. You’re not alone here. God is in the room with you.”
The little girl replied: “I know that God is here, but I need somebody in this room who has some skin” (The Holy Longing p. 76-77).
Well, at Christmas, God took on skin and flesh and bones, and a human heart and mind and soul. He is God with us. He wanted to experience it all so He could be with us in everything but sin and redeem us.
So, if you are a young person who perhaps feels your parents don’t always understand, the God made man whose parents had to track Him down in the temple when he was 12 is with you. If you work hard, the son of the carpenter who worked without electric saws or power drills is with you. If you are celebrating and rejoicing, the Son of God who worked His first miracle to keep a wedding party going is with you.
If you are frustrated or feel let down by those close to you, God who had to deal with the thick-headed Apostles who in the end deserted Him, denied Him and betrayed Him, is with you. If you are afraid, perhaps facing suffering and even death, the Son of God who prayed His Father to spare Him the cross is with you.
And He shines the light of His redeeming grace into your darkness “and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1,5). All of human reality, even the deepest darkness of sin and suffering and death, is illumined by God incarnate sharing in it and being with us.
And God has not left us alone after the Ascension of Jesus. He is with us always. As Rolheiser points out, there are two other realities that Scripture calls the Body of Christ, besides the physical body of Jesus of Nazareth: the Eucharist and the Church.
In the Eucharist Christ is really, substantially present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the forms of bread and wine. The miracle of Christmas happens at every Mass. You can have Christmas every week at Sunday Mass, or every day if you want. And this connects us to the other reality called the Body of Christ – the Church.
When we receive the Eucharist, we become the Body of Christ. Which means that we become Christ’s hands and feet and voice on earth. We are called to bring God’s consolation to the sorrowful, God’s guidance to the lost, God’s forgiveness to the sinful, God’s peace to the anxious, God’s comfort to the frightened. We are to show them God who has some skin.
Like that little girl’s mother, we are called to do this in our everyday life. We are called to be extensions of God’s Incarnation in Christ. We can show the world God who has some skin because we are made His body the Church when we receive Him who is God with us, in the Eucharist. May this Christmas bring us all to a deeper understanding of this mystery.
By Monsignor William Baker, pastor of All Saints Parish, McAdoo.