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Center for Action and Contemplation
Incarnation - 2023
Incarnation - 2023

Saying Yes to Body and Spirit 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Father Richard describes the incarnational faith of Mary:

In the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and throughout the epistles, a whole new dimension of faith becomes available to those who accept it. It is a way of living in the Spirit, which some of the Hebrew prophets anticipate. The prophet Joel speaks of this most clearly:

In the days that follow, I will pour out my spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions. In those days I will pour out my spirit even on your servants and your handmaids (Joel 3:1–2).

We see the Spirit descending upon Jesus after his baptism in the Jordan, and we see the Spirit again filling the apostles with power on the day of Pentecost. But the very first person who incarnates this new faith was Mary of Nazareth, who said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me” (Luke 1:38). It was Mary who responded with an unconditional yes to the angel’s announcement that she was to give birth to the Messiah.

Mary is the model of the faith to which God calls all of us: a total and unreserved yes to God’s request to be present in and to the world through us. God desires to love others unconditionally in and through us. Those who live with such a faith can truly be called God’s instruments. God wants Light to shine through us, and so our first response to this call is simply to heed it and remain open to divine grace. Mary said her yes to God, and God was able to become incarnate in her. She gave birth to Christ by being so totally open to God’s Spirit that the Christ child could be born. [1]

The question then becomes for us: How do we also give birth, as Mary did?

There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement, or preparedness in Mary, only humble trust and surrender. She gives us all, therefore, a bottomless hope in our own little place. If we ourselves try to “manage” God or manufacture our own worthiness by any perfection or performance principle whatsoever, we will never give birth to the Christ, but only more of ourselves. [2]

Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ. Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person. All matter reveals Spirit, and Spirit needs matter to “show itself”! What I like to call the “Forever Coming of Christ” happens whenever and wherever we allow this to be utterly true for us. This is how God continually breaks into history. [3]


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr and Joseph Martos, The Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament (Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1987), 125–126.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2012), 38, 40.

[3] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Cosmic Christ (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2009). Available as MP3 audio download.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Madison Frambes, Untitled 7, 5 and 8 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

Together we are the incarnate hands and feet and body of God.

Story from Our Community:  

The meditation from June 5, 2023, Considering the Trinity, reminded me of the incredible feelings of love that intense grief can bring forth. When my beloved father was near death, I had the strong feeling that I was falling in love. It was totally unexpected to be so intensely sad and to be feeling such love in the same moment. In that experience, I realized that grief is actually a form of love. Now, 6 years later, I sometimes miss those first intense feelings of grief over my father’s death because it created a way for me to still feel deeply connected with him. As time has passed, and I’ve adjusted to life without his physical presence, my feelings of grief have faded as well and thus those deep connections feel diminished. I believe it is God’s way of having me move forward in life without him. —Anne G.

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