Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Inspiration of the Incarnation

Having gone through the labor and birth experience somewhat recently gave the Nativity an entirely new meaning for me this year. I've always been amazed by the Incarnation and that fact that our God would become fully human, but having a small baby of my own gave the fragility of this Event a depth I had never experienced before. To think of baby Jesus, completely dependent upon Mary and Joseph for His food, shelter, warmth-- everything-- makes the Incarnation that much more amazing than it already was.

Our God entered humanity in exactly the same way that we all did. And unlike the song "Away in a Manger", Jesus probably did shed an inconsolable tear or two, albeit maybe not at the lowing of a cow. He probably frustrated and confused Mary and Joseph ("He's been fed, changed and burped, what else could He need?"). Mary and Joseph probably had grandiose dreams for their Son, maybe even a Messianic one.

I pledged a long time ago to never be the type of parent who thinks his child(ren) are perfect, but I do understand the immense potential that Elizabeth, and every child and even person, contains. I believe that God has a wonderfully important vocation in His plan for Elizabeth and that realizing it and eventually fulfilling it is the most essential task of her life.

St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (2:10).

God had a plan for Jesus, prepared in advance for Him to do. Similarly, He has a plan for Elizabeth and every child/person, prepared in advance for us. It should be our life's work to figure out what that is and then do it to the best of our abilities.

Essentially, this is the goal of our educational pursuits. Every student/person has been given good work to do in this world. As educators, we should do all that we can to help our students realize all of their potential and carry out the good work in store for them as part of God's plan. It may be too much to think that like Jesus they could forever change the world, but it may limit God's power too much to think otherwise.

The Incarnation is proof of this. It should change all that we do as educators. Christ had to be born to realize His potential and carry out the work God had laid out for Him. Like every child, Christ had to grow, mature and be nurtured in order to realize God's plan for Him and have the strength and conviction to execute it. The baby Jesus, despite being fully divine, could not have saved the world. But, along with Him in the manger laid the potential to do so.

As Catholic educators, let us be inspired by the Incarnation and realize that the good works prepared in advance for us to do may be to help our students come to know the good works prepared in advance for them.

It may not save the world, but it just might change it for the better.