Christmas Reflection: The humble humanity and incredible power of Jesus
December 16, 2020
By FATHER MARCUS KNECHT
One of my favorite internet memes (a picture or collection of pictures with text that explains or repurposes the image(s) in a culturally relevant and usually funny way) is one that combines my favorite cartoon movie, “Aladdin,” with an icon of Mary pregnant with Jesus inside her womb.
The text over the icon is the line from the movie of the Genie explaining his living circumstances by saying he has “Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty bitty living space!” The Genie is so powerful he can grant anybody’s wishes – that’s pretty powerful – yet he lives in a small oil lamp. Compare that to Jesus, who has infinite power (since he is God), and came down from heaven to us, in Mary’s womb – an itty bitty living space.
Imagine that! Our infinite God, who created the entire, vast universe – and you as well – decided to enter into his own creation. He became part of the material world he created. Jesus became human. But he didn’t just appear on earth as an adult – *POOF* there he is!
Instead, as if to really convince us that he became fully human, he started out in a woman’s womb and grew from there. He really entered into our reality – our lived experiences.
Being raised by a mother and foster-father, we cannot doubt that Jesus had physical vulnerabilities. He needed to be picked up, clothed, fed, then cleaned up when he burped up. Jesus may or may not have stubbed his toe or dealt with teenage acne, but he certainly would have experienced achy muscles after a hard day’s work with Joseph.
Besides the physical experiences, he also had emotional ones. He suffered emotional pain from the death of family and friends, but also had moments of laughter and simple joys. Jesus went through many life experiences similar to yours. He knows what you are going through, and he cares.
Jesus cared enough to become like you and he is powerful enough to bring change to your life. That is why our infinitely powerful God humbled himself to lay in a manger. The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the Bible (2 Pt 1:4) stating, “The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’” (no. 460). In the same paragraph, it quotes two early Church fathers. St. Irenaeus said, “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” St. Athanasius said, “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in His divinity, assumed our nature, so that He, made man, might make men gods.”
That is incredible power! Jesus can change us from within to allow our weak human nature to share in his divine life. He won’t change our nature, which is important because we should always want to remain human. But he will free us from our weakened state and strengthen us with his divine power.
We can get a small taste of that now, and the fullness of that reality in heaven. We can’t get that without God. We have to approach him and let him in. Yet, Christmas reminds us that God first approached us.
We can trust him who came down to share our human experience with us and is powerful enough to change us from within so we can share in his divine life. How will you let God change your life this Christmas? Start by letting him into your “itty bitty living space.”
Father Marcus Knecht is the associate pastor at St. Gerald Parish in Omaha.