Many of us might know the advertisement strategy “to enter through other’s door and come out through mine.” It is not just used in advertisement; this is used by religious persons (in many of their pastoral ministries), counselors (in their helping ministry), parents (in dealing with children) etc. Whether this is a good approach or not, is for you to judge. As we are still in the Christmas season, it is good to connect this strategy with incarnation (God becoming human). We say in a very pious way that “God became man to show us the way to heaven.” We will miss many interesting dimensions of incarnation if we are only holding on to this narrative, without exploring others.
The famous English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins would say “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” If this is true (& I think so), one of the beautiful purpose of incarnation is to help us “find that grandeur of God in the world around us.” If the grandeur of God was seen in a stable on that eventful birthday of Jesus, Christmas invites us to see that grandeur of God in the extreme ordinariness of life. This is the call to a follower of Jesus.
After I joined as a Jesuit, many people have asked me, why Jesuits work in the missions (often remote places… if not remote, atleast without the facilities of the comfortable city life) doing social work (education/rights based/farming related). As long as there are Christians or parish work, people are okay with the priests working there. If these things are not there and not doing any sort of attempts even to convert others to become Christians (most don’t do), why they are wasting their life as priests in such areas? Can’t they be social workers and work there? Why they need to become priests? [Questions may be similar to Sisters/brothers working in similar types of works].
I used to ask these questions, and probably the answer for me came when I got a sense of the narrative of grandeur (2nd paragraph of the write-up) of God in incarnation. Yes, the grandeur of God is not only visible among the Christians, but in the entire creation. Many of these missionaries are deeply spiritual people. They, in a way, are trying to see/touch/smell/hear/taste the grandeur of God in those extremely ordinary areas with their works for justice, peace and reconciliation. The message of incarnation is lived out
- When ecologists attempts to protect the remote jungles/ rain forests around the world.
- When activists fight for justice for a vulnerable of any kind.
- When education is provided to children of those areas where facilities are not adequate.
- When refugees are taken care of.
- When farmers are equipped with sustainable technologies.
Many live out the message of incarnation in a very non-religious ways. They may or may not state it so, but it could be considered as attempts to sense the grandeur of God in the creation, especially those of the creation where most conventional people least expect (or not attempt) to find God.