Incarnation – Word and Mystery
Through the Christmas cards and the baking and the wrapping paper, “Incarnation” wove a great question mark. What does it really mean? Scripture offers some avenues:
“The Word was made flesh…”
“He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…”
“An infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…”
But what does Incarnation mean now? For me?
My Advent began in Nairobi with our first Kenyan members, a new little sprout on the Company of St. Ursula.
Five interested women shared a day of dialogue with us. In a culture with no place for single women, they understood Angela Merici’s struggle to follow her vocation amid family opposition. Their options too are either marriage or religious life. I marveled at the courage required for a Kenyan woman to walk alone with Christ along the paths of village life: farming, assisting parents, teaching, caring for children…. Incarnation! The young carpenter of Nazareth was so ordinary that his neighbors would later scoff at his preaching.
We celebrated Eunice’s first consecration and Perpetua’s renewal of temporary consecration. African ululations punctuated our song and dance, as their family members rocked the small chapel. Companies around the world celebrate these commitments to Christ in languages and ceremonies distinctively Sicilian, Indonesian, Slovakian, Brazilian…. Incarnation! Jesus’ vernacular Aramaic and earthy stories signaled his identity: a rustic Galilean.
The Jesus we revere was – to his neighbors – just “Josh, son of Joe the carpenter.” To be, like Jesus, one of the people, carrying God, is the vocation of all Christians, made explicit through our consecration in the Company. Our way of life has the contours of each place – each century – where women hear and respond to this invitation.Yes, Kenya gave me some clues to the mystery of Incarnation.