The simple yet profound mystery of the Incarnation is this: The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Scripture scholars tell us that this phrase in John’s Gospel literally translates as “pitched his tent” with his people. Like God’s presence in the Ark of the Covenant, as the Chosen People traveled through the desert, so now God would come to earth as a vulnerable but graced infant, getting the same start in life that each and every one of us has. Our God wants to be with us wherever we are. No dwelling is too lowly, no circumstances too humble. St. Francis recognized this when he created the first live nativity scene at Greccio: a cave, some animals, a deep faith in God’s promise.
And tradition tells us that he held the baby in his arms during the Mass. We probably celebrate hospitality more at Christmas than we do at any other time of the year. We host parties, we attend parties, we revel in food and drink and presents. We also open not only our hearts but our wallets to those in need. It’s a blessing to be able to do this. Maybe this is the year that we decide to carry this spirit of hospitality forward into the rest of the year, to become God’s sentinels of hope. God comes into our lives, into our homes, into our world every day in many different disguises. Pope Francis reminds us that Christmas calls us to be on the lookout for this manifestation of the divine. And if God wants to dwell with us, we better be willing to open our doors to him.
—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent
by Diane M. Houdek