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Everyday Incarnation

In previous articles, we focused on peak encounters with Christ through living a life of holiness, formation and evangelization and through experiencing Christ’s ongoing Incarnation in the Mass. However, the significance of Christ’s ongoing Incarnation does not stop at peak encounters. It is rooted in the fact that Christ is present in every part of our lives. The divine presence is in the human. The ordinary has been made extraordinary. Only we don’t realize it!

The Greek novelist, Nikos Kazantakis, puts it this way: “Wherever you find husband and wife, that’s where you find God; wherever children and petty cares and cooking and arguments and reconciliation are, there is where God is too.” Being with and eating with one’s family is not just a good human experience, but it is a religious experience. Fr. Rolheiser in The Holy Longing states: “To be involved in the normal flow of life, giving and receiving, as flawed and painful as this might be at times within any relationship, is to have the life of God flow through us.”

Everyday Redemption. The same mindset that mistakenly sees the Incarnation as a single event in history also mistakenly sees redemption as a single event in history. Redemption takes place every day of our lives. God is redemptively present in our day-to-day struggle against our human condition. Only if we are deeply conscious of the sinful dimension that affects every aspect of our human condition, can we live in awareness of God calling us out of our pathologies to live more fully. It is as if we are in denial of our human condition, and by denying our human condition, we deny God’s redemptive presence and action in our lives. We deny ourselves the joy of God dancing us into our full humanity. Everyday Incarnation is everyday redemption.

Everyday Dialogues. We become more fully human beings through dialogue with others─being addressed and responding to others. Due to our fallen nature, we can only grow through many conversions. In Man Becoming, Gregory Baum says that our conversations with others, even our enemies, will reveal to us who we are. They judge us, they summon us to grow, they demand a reply. They leave two choices: either we choose to be deaf and thus harden in our opposition to life or we open ourselves to the truth about ourselves. The key point: the same Word in Scripture that summons, judges, reveals, and provokes decisions is the same Word in human dialogue. Christ’s ongoing Incarnation, ongoing redemption takes place in our everyday dialogues with others.

Everyday Relationships. Further, we become more fully human beings through our relationships with others. It is the care and love offered us by others that create in us the strength to listen to the word that calls us to conversion. Just as we discern the Word of God in our everyday conversations, so we are able to detect a gift-dimension in our everyday relationships. Our friends’ gifts of love and caring of us transcend what they themselves possess. We receive much more than they give. If we were to express our gratitude to them, they would be embarrassed. For they know that they have not really given us what we have received from them. We are all too wounded to give one another the freedom to break out of our sinfulness. The freedom to become human is God’s gift to us. Christ’s ongoing Incarnation empowers us through our relationships with others.

We are redeemed through our everyday experiences or it does not happen. Our so-called secular life is the holy terrain of Christ’s Spirit. Ironically enough, we are highly conscious that our everyday life is the battleground with our woundedness, but we are highly unaware that our everyday life is the place where Christ’s Spirit encounters us through our everyday dialogues and everyday relationships.