Putting on Skin

25 December 2007 Christmas Day
The Incarnation

Today we celebrate an article of faith found in the Creed. In fact, when we recite this part, “who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” we kneel in reverence. This article is the reason for the holidays, the rationale behind the Christmas season. In Christian faith, it is called, the Incarnation --- when God choose to be enfleshed, by becoming human like you and me.

Let me illustrate what the Incarnation is with a contextualized adaptation of a story of a five-year-old child named Janie who woke scared in the middle of a typhoon, shouting for her parents in the other room. After her mother rushed to calm Janie, she took her leave. But the child protested, pleading her mother to stay with her. Her mother, like many religious persons, said, “But God is with you all the time.” Janie replied, “But I need someone with skin!” In the Incarnation, God has put on skin in order for us to experience Him.

What does this mean in our lives? Our first experience of God is with people --- creatures with skin. Not ghosts. Not spirits. Our parents are our first experience of God. Through their kisses and embraces, through their ways of caring for us, we experience the care of God. Psychology has it that those who grew up without fathers, find it difficult to identify with God as Father, because they do not have an experience of what a father is.

How much we are loved by God is seen in the people who surround us with love and devotion. Our friends and relatives facilitate this experience. Therefore, at Christmas, when we give gifts to those we love or to those who are poor and homeless, we contribute to God’s putting on skin in the world today. They experience Christmas through people who enflesh God’s love.

There is a story about a pig and a cow. The pig, one day, complained to the cow, “Why do you have more friends than I? I think I contribute to humans more than you do: hams, longganisa and sausages, lechon, and various dishes for fiestas and celebrations come from me. While you, contribute mainly your milk to make cheese and dairy products.”

The cow gave it a thought and answered, “Perhaps because I give while I am still alive.”

So too with us. While we are alive, our faith encourages us to give all of our love. Not wait until the day when we lose all our skin.

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