“How beautiful are the feet of him who brings great tidings of peace.” This is one of my favorite scriptural readings for it promises us such great joy and happiness. Beautiful are the feet and the entire body of that person who comes to us alight with the love of God, bringing us the good news, the Gospel message, a message never heard before in its fullness. For unto us this day is born in the city of David, a Savior, a child, who is the bearer of peace and all good things not to just a few but to all of humanity.
Rejoice! Rejoice! And again, I say Rejoice!
Today we learn of the coming into the world of God, the son of God, whom we will come to know as Jesus. But he does not come as God alone. No, he does not come in glory, lauding it over all of us adorned with pomp and circumstance. No. How does he come? He comes as a child, an infant in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. A manger!? Yes, a manger, because there was no room for him and his parents in the inn in Bethlehem. He comes as one of us, clothed in human flesh, weak and vulnerable, rejected by a hostile world. As Scripture says: The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. This is the God that we welcome with open arms and hearts into our midst - a child, weak, innocent, lowly, poor, yet God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
of grace and truth.
Scripture says much of him and little. He is born in a manger with the oxen and lambs for his company. He is welcomed by shepherds caring for their flocks of sheep. He comes, alone yet full of promise, into our world. Herod tries to have him killed. Yet, kings from other worlds also come to honor and glorify him. Who is this child? What is his significance in our lives?
In John, we learn something about him but spoken not of a child but of a being beyond comprehension:
In the beginning was the Word
And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All things came to be though him,…
Who is this Word and who is this Child, are they one and the same? Incredibly, yes, they are. Before all time, he was, yet he comes to us now a child, a baby boy, As the spiritual proclaims: “The Virgin Mary had a baby boy, the Virgin Mary had a baby boy, the Virgin Mary had a baby boy and they gave him the name of Jesus. He come from the kingdom; he come from the glorious kingdom.”
He is the Word of God. At the beginning of time, he spoke and all that exists came into being. He spoke and lands were formed, animals and human beings were created. All of life in all its myriad forms came into being. Yet he is today only a wee boychild, dependent, like all children, on his parents as he begins the journey of life.
This is truly an important day; a holy day; a day of salvation “For today a great light has come upon the earth” and shines upon us all. Who is this light? It is the child Jesus, the child who is also the Word of God; the child whose life and death will change ours for all time, bringing the promise of peace to the nations, bringing salvation from on high. This child is our Savior. Strange, that. Why would God send his son, his only son, down to walk amongst humanity and why after doing so does he condemn him to death, a horrific death on a cross? What is this youngster supposed to do for us? How do we respond to him? We respond as he does, in love. We respond with love and thanksgiving, while seeking to understand and calling upon him as he grows to guide us to a better life, a life not of pain and despair but of love and hope. Remember, this child, this youngster, this young man is the Son of God. Let us listen to and learn from him how to survive in this world so that we may one day join him in his life in heaven.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation…” Rejoice and be glad for we have been blessed to witness the birth of our Savior. It is through him that God has spoken to us and given us hope that that which is will no longer be. There is a better world ahead if only we hold out and hold on in hope. This better world will, indeed, come, not just after death but within the span of our lives if we believe and act on that belief.
And the Word became flesh
And made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory,
The glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.
Rejoice! Rejoice! And again, I say, Rejoice!
Diana L. Hayes
Diana L. Hayes is a Professor Emerita of Systematic Theology at Georgetown University.
Her areas of specialization are Womanist Theology, Black Theology, U.S. Liberation Theologies, Contextual Theologies, Religion and Public Life, and African American and Womanist Spirituality. Dr. Hayes is the first African American woman to receive the Pontifical Doctor of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.D.) from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) and has also received three honorary doctorates.
She is the author of several books, including No Crystal Stair: Womanist Spirituality (Orbis Books, 2016,) Forged in the Fiery Furnace: African American Spirituality (Orbis Books, 2012), and Standing in the Shoes My Mother Made: A Womanist Theology (Fortress Press, 2010) and over 50 articles.
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