I was with some of the fourth grade classes from our Religious Education Program yesterday afternoon. I reflected with them that God could have become incarnate in any way he chose. But what he chose is almost incomprehensible: the Lord of all came into the world as a tiny baby, born to a poor family, to an unwed mother. He grew through childhood and young adulthood, working with his hands in the trade of his earthly father. He knew the frustrations we have, and he knew our sadness and disappointment. He was well-acquainted with our infirmities, and even grieved at the death of those he loved. Why?
There is a theological principle that says something like “whatever was not assumed was not redeemed.” He had to assume, take on all of our weaknesses, so that he would be able to redeem all its brokenness. What great comfort it is that our Advent leads to the Birth of a Savior so wonderful in glory that the whole earth could not contain him, but also so intimately one of us that he bore all our sorrows and grief. It is amazing that God’s plan to save the world took shape by assuming our own form, even to the point of dying our death.
That’s what I thought about as I reflected on today’s first reading. Israel was pretty low and lacking in power, in the grand scheme of things. Almost every nation was more powerful than them. Yet they were not unnoticed by God – indeed they were actually favored. God’s plan for salvation takes place among the weakness of all of us. God notices that weakness, takes it on and redeems it in glory.
That’s the good news today for all of us who suffer in whatever way. God notices our suffering, in the person of Jesus he bore that same suffering, and in the glory of the Paschal Mystery, he redeemed it. God may not wave a magic wand and make all of our problems go away, but he will never leave us alone in them.
And it all started with the Incarnation. The birth of one tiny child to a poor family, in the tiniest region of the lowliest nation on earth. God can do amazing things when we are incredibly weak.