This Advent season, I am pondering some of the implications of the incarnation–of the wonder and mystery of God’s choosing to become most fully known to us in the limits and glories of a human life, the life of Jesus. I said to our deacons last night that God’s becoming human means at least this much: our humanity is not a problem to be escaped but a gift to be embraced. And, it means that, as C. S. Lewis once said, strictly speaking, there are no ordinary human beings. Each person has the extraordinary capacity to have at least some of the radiance of Christ shine from his or her humanity. While pondering these things, I recalled this passage from a book on spirituality by Tad Dunne:
For the greatest part of our lives we forget what a miracle a person or a community of persons really is. Familiarity may not always breed contempt, but it does breed a spiritual drowsiness. We grow accustomed to the wonders of human intelligence, realism, and commitment; or perhaps we are just disappointed that they fail to reach the profundities they seem destined for. And the drowsier we grow, the less astonishment we inspire in others, so that a family, a staff, a city, an entire culture can find its wonder smothered by routinized relationships, by the drudgery of hard work, and by thought-stifling propaganda and advertising. But then along comes an Anne Frank, who gazes at a small square of blue sky from her sequestered window and learns again that people are miracles. Charity keeps breaking through, like the little wild flowers, through the cracks in our cemented pathways. [Tad Dunne, Lonergan and Spirituality Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1985, p.121].
The miracle of Christmas is, in part, its ability to help us see and sense the human miracle: the possibilities for hope, peace, joy and love latent in each person.