God does care about You! - The Word became Flesh

Homily for the Second Sunday after Christmas

by Fr. Tommy Lane

(In many countries, including the USA, the celebration of the Epiphany of Our Lord takes place on this Sunday replacing this Sunday in the liturgical cycle.)

“Where is God? Does God really care about me? How could God possibly know what we have to suffer?” These are questions that we may ask sometimes, especially in moments of pain. The answer to these questions is, “God does really care, God is closer than your own heart and God does indeed understand your suffering.”

Christ in the house of his parentsIn 1850 John Millais (1829-1896) painted a picture of Jesus working in Joseph’s carpentry workshop, entitled Christ in the House of His Parents. Jesus had given himself a bad gash in his finger and blood streamed down onto his feet. Mary was there comforting him. Although only an imaginary incident, it portrays very well that Jesus was human, and understands our pain. It depicts very well what John means in today’s Gospel, ‘The Word became flesh.’ Why? Because God does care. God had absolutely no need to become one of us but did so to convince us how much we mean to him. Think about how much you mean to God! You mean so much to God that God became a human, just to convince you, and if that isn’t enough to convince you, Jesus died for you. What more can God do to convince you he cares about you?

John begins his Gospel,

In the beginning was the Word,
the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

 That Word is Jesus. It is truly amazing, almost unbelievable, that this Word, Jesus, who existed since the beginning and is God, would become flesh.

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory...

We wouldn’t expect God to mix with us by becoming flesh. But the Word became flesh, God became one of us to convince us that God does care about us.

Because the Word became flesh Jesus was like us in every way except sin. He even had the same emotions that we do. (further details in my commentary on The humanity of Jesus) He loved other people, Martha, Mary and Lazarus (John 11:15), his disciple John and the rich young man (Mark 10:21). He cried when he hurt a lot; when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:35-36) and before entering Jerusalem when he knew that the city would not accept him as the Messiah (Luke 19:41-44). He enjoyed social occasions. In Luke’s Gospel in particular we read of Jesus attending many dinners (7:36; 11:37; 14:1), so much so that a rhyme was made up about him, ‘a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners.’ (Luke 7:34) Jesus felt pity for people when he saw them suffering (Matt 14:13-14), so when they were hungry he multiplied the loaves and fish (Matt 15:32-39). He got angry when people used the Temple for the wrong purpose (Matt 21:12-17). He needed companionship, so he took Peter, James and John aside with him on many occasions (Mark 5:37; 14:33) and John was his very close friend (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20). At the end of a hard day Jesus fell asleep in the boat, he was tired like all of us (Mark 4:38). He felt fear before his passion, ‘Father let his cup pass me by’ (Matt 26:39) and in John 12:27 he says, ‘now my soul is troubled’. Imagine Jesus saying, ‘now my soul is troubled’. When John says the Word became flesh, he really means it. After all, he had seen Jesus and had been his very close friend. As he says in our Gospel today,

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory...

The Word became flesh, and was like us in every way except sin, to convince us that God does care about us.

The Word dwelt among us. The Word, Jesus, didn’t just become flesh and live a quiet life. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He was a man of the people. That’s why they said of him, ‘a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners’. When curing the lepers he touched them. Lepers were not supposed to come near towns and according to Jewish Law Jesus would be impure after touching a leper and could not enter the Temple or synagogue until after washing. But Jesus was a man of the people, he dwelt among them, and so Law or no Law, when a leper wanted healing he touched him. Because Jesus was a man of the people he concentrated much of his ministry among those who really needed him, the sinners. They knew they were welcome in his company, he was known as a friend of sinners.

This Word, Jesus, became flesh, and dwelt among us, and made the Father known to us as the last line of our Gospel today says,

No one has ever seen God,
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

John is saying the reason the Word became flesh was that we might get to know the Father. Jesus is the Father’s Word to us. Jesus is the revelation of God the Father. How do we get to know the Father? By getting to know Jesus. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the way to the Father. If we want to know the Father, let us get to know Jesus. How do we get to know Jesus? The same way as we get to know anybody. By spending time together. We spend time with Jesus when we pray to him and when we read the Gospels. So let us get to know Jesus who became flesh, through prayer and reading the Gospels, so that we might get to know the Father. We cannot say anymore it is too difficult to get to know God. He has revealed himself to us in his Son Jesus to show us that he really does care about us.

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us...
No one has ever seen God,
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

“Where is God? Does God really care about me? How could God possibly know what we have to suffer?” These are questions that we may ask sometimes, especially in moments of pain. The answer to these questions is, “God does really care, God is closer than your own heart and God does indeed understand your suffering.” God had absolutely no need to become one of us but did so to convince us how much we mean to him. Think about how much you mean to God! You mean so much to God that God became a human, just to convince you, and if that isn’t enough to convince you, Jesus died for you. What more can God do to convince you he cares about you? Therefore I would like to conclude with the beautiful prayer at the end of our second reading today,

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit. (Eph 1:17-18)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Second Sunday after Christmas

Now I know why You had to do it - a Christmas Parable

Second Reading see Enlightened to Our Calling and Destiny

Second Reading see Chosen by God

stories for Christmas