Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
As I sit here and reflect on the readings for today, I’m struck by this line, in particular. After all, this is what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? The beautiful mystery of the Incarnation—God becoming man and entering into our humanity, being born as a small and helpless baby. But what does it really mean to you that God would do this? Now that the preparation for Christmas is over, the child Jesus is in our manger scenes, and we’re basically over the Christmas music on the radio, what difference does it make that we celebrated the Incarnation?
You may or may not know that the Christmas season is just that—a season. We don’t simply celebrate one day of Christmas, but a whole season of, you guessed it, twelve days (it’s typically celebrated until the Epiphany). I love that the Church gives us not just one day of Christmas for us to pass over and barely recognize in a busy time of year, but a whole season to sit with this great mystery so that it sinks in.
It’s easy for me to let Christmas end after Christmas day and to stop thinking about how important and powerful the Incarnation really is. It’s almost as if I can read the narrative of Christ being born in the Gospels leading up to Christmas, and then start reading the rest of the Gospel on the 26th, not giving a second thought to the baby Jesus. This is why I am so struck by the introduction to the Gospel of John that we see in today’s Gospel reading, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Jesus didn’t choose to become flesh in one big event and then immediately start getting to work with his ministry. He chose to become a child in a simple and humble event (even though we tend to make a big deal out of such a quiet and simple event) and his birth leads to a simple and humble period of growth that is easy to overlook. God didn’t become man to “get to work” or to start accomplishing the important things. God became man to “dwell among us”.
There is a patience that is inherent to the Incarnation of Christ—he chose to come into our lives and into our world and then to take time to truly be and live as one of us. Jesus is not a crash-course of salvation, but a patient and deliberate lover who takes his time to dwell with us. As I meditate on the Christmas season, I’m seeing more and more that it isn’t just about one big event or family party following another, or getting decorations taken down right away, or preparing to go back to work right after the fun ends; Christmas is about a slow, patient, deliberate time that God desires to spend dwelling among us.
Christmas isn’t over and God still has more for you. Take time to dwell with him, as he makes his dwelling place in your life.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
How am I already moving past Christmas? How is God calling me to still focus on the beauty of this season?
In what ways do I expect Jesus to come and fix or change my life in quick ways? Why or why do I not struggle to be patient with him?
How can I give God a little more space to dwell with me this Christmas?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Dwell among us."
"Help me be patient."
"Jesus, I trust you."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Spend 5-10 minutes extra in prayer today. Keep it simple and don't overcomplicate things—God wants to dwell with you and be deliberate with his time, so give him just a little bit more undistracted time to dwell in your heart.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.
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