The womb that changed the world
Have you ever thought of the birth of Jesus as the greatest systemic change? I never did until recently. Probably the most important reason why was that it is only in the last 20 years that I have begun to think in terms of systemic or profound changes. Then a few years back I finally made the connection that the Word becoming flesh is the most profound change in human history.
What could be more a more profound change than this? The challenge to shift our thinking from “what’s in it for me” to we are all one and all that that implies. When Mary said yes at the annunciation she set this most profound change in motion.
Who would have thought that simple yes to a pregnancy could change the course of history by profoundly challenging our way of thinking about God.
Incarnation as world-changing systemic change
God has been sending us messages about what it means to be human for millennia! But we really did not get it.
The passage in Hebrews 1:1-2 immediately came to mind.
“In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe.”
So God took flesh to show us what it looks like.
That led to another realization, actually a question. Why did God go to such great lengths to change our way of thinking?
Did the Word become flesh, suffer and die to change God’s mind or to change our minds? After all, God has first loved us! Even when we were furthest away. The more I thought about it the more I realized Jesus came to change our minds, not God’s!
What was his basic message? “Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand.” The root meaning of the Greek word metanoia is change, change your way of thinking. Philippians 2:5 says it clearly. “Have this mind in you that was in Christ Jesus!” Jesus spelled it out even more clearly. “I am the Way!” “I have come to bring good news to the poor.” (Luke 4) . “Whatever you do to the least of these you do unto me.” (Mt. 25), He came to teach us that we are all sons and daughters called to live as a Trinitarian community.
The Word became flesh to show us what God’s message and way of thinking looks like when lived humanly. Jesus is the living model of world-changing systemic change.
We are called to live the systemic change of the Incarnation
Jesus is the model of living in the kingdom of God. We need only look at the lessons of his life and death. “Do this in memory of me!” “Wash one another’s feet as I have washed yours.”
This is putting on the mind of Christ. How different this mind is from the mind of the world that implicitly lives by “a me first mentality”, grasping power, comfort, and security.
“Keep Christ in Christmas” is more than a slogan of the culture wars. It is a challenge to live with the mind of Christ. “Put on the mind of Christ.”
Vincent had his own practical way of expressing this systemic change in our way of thinking. “Let us love God, brothers, let us love God, but let it be with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brows” We have many contemporary ways of saying it. Among them, “Put your money where your mouth is!”
Let us buy into the systemic change of thinking Jesus came to show us.
Reflection questions changing my mind
- Do I understand the Incarnation as God coming among us to teach us how to live in the Kingdom?
- Do I understand the Incarnation as a call to put on the mind of Christ?
- How willing am I to radically change my way of thinking?