The birth of God enfleshed is a call to compassion for all.
“And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God … his mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him… The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold… he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.” (Luke 1:46–55, The Message)
When God took on human flesh, it was in the form of a newborn baby who was born to a poor girl and her carpenter husband, political and ethnic minorities in a land of violent occupation. Within a few years, this enfleshed God named Jesus would become a refugee in a foreign land, fleeing from the genocide of other vulnerable babies.
Vulnerable. God came to us as a vulnerable child who grew up to embrace and lift up others who were vulnerable, many of whom society had cast aside. Surely, we followers of Jesus can agree that to be made in the image of a vulnerable God is a call to extend mercy and compassion to all.
Mary heard Gabriel’s message and responded with unbounded praise and hope. She seemed to know that the vulnerable God-child was a sign of the Creator’s eternal love for and protection of the meek and lowly—a sign that the Kingdom of God was nothing like the kingdoms of Earth, where riches and power determine your place at the table. And when her baby was born, she held the whole world’s hope in her arms.
So, what are we to do this Advent? The winter days are short and dark, and sadness tends to creep through every crack of our fragile shells. You might be thinking about the dogs used to make leather gloves, the mother pigs confined to tiny metal crates, or the elderly homeless man you see every day on your commute. This Advent, I’m holding these two realities in tension: First, there is a lot of suffering in the world, and second, I’m called to be a light. In the celebration of Advent, Christians can recognize that we’ve been called to participate in bringing about the peaceable Kingdom that Christ will restore.