“The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”
This verse captures the central doctrine of our faith:
God chose to clothe himself in human flesh and live among.
It sounds a bit different when you read it in the original Greek:
The Greek version, uses something like an RV park
to describe the way that God lived among.
It says that the Word of God “pitched his tent.”
So, let’s go with that:
God pitched his tent in our back yard.
God parked his camper next to the lake.
God stretched out a tarp beneath the I-40 overpass.
This has lots of implications.
#1: It means God loves a road trip.
He’s ready to pack up at a moment’s notice
to travel at our side wherever life takes us.
#2: It means that God sent His Son
to move in next door and walk our streets
and live the life that we live.
In this part of the world, that means
savoring the flavor of hotdogs, brisket, tamales and menudo…
gazing at the glory of a West Texas sunset
shooting fireworks on the Fourth of July!
Yet, moving into town was just the beginning.
When God walked the face of the earth in the person of Jesus,
son of Mary, son Joseph, son of Nazareth, he was always more
than the neighbor next door.
He was always more than the boy
working in carpenter’s shop on the corner.
He was always more than the boy fishing from the dock
at the lake on the edge of town.
He was, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah;
He was Son of God-in-hiding.
He was the Savior-incognito…
living just up the street!
Unfortunately, the folks who lived on that street
recognized the boy, but didn’t know his dad.
In today’s context, you might say that the folks of Nazareth
never learned to see beyond
his grade-school picture,
his two-wheel bicycle
his 4-H ribbons, his rodeo buckles
or his junior varsity baseball trophies.
They failed to recognize the Living God
living in their midst.
What about us?
Do we recognize him today?
Do we find him “pitching his tent”
in the man-camps of the oil fields?
Do we see his reflection in the worn faces
of the fathers of our parish community?
Do we see his life-giving love in the eyes of a young mother
kneeling next to us at Mass?
Do we see his happiness sparkle in the eyes of our children?
Do we note his vigor in the faces of the young on the football field?
His wisdom in the eyes of the residents of Caprock Nursing Center?
In short, do we recognize his presence in our hometown…
living within the members of our families,
living inside the houses of our neighbors,
accompanying the stranger pulling in the Toot-N-Totum
to gas up a car with a camper hooked to the back bumper?
Jesus went to his hometown and the people asked,
is this not the son of Mary and Joseph?
Are not his cousins our neighbors?
Did you hear that?
After he left his hometown and, later, returned,
the people said:
“That fellow forgot where he came from!
What gives him the right to come back here
with his nose in the air acting like he’s better than us?”
So much did their lack of faith distress him,
that he could work no miracles there.
The passage ends by telling us that he soon moved on.
And the Bible never mentions that he ever went back.
It would appear that one visit was enough.
He never went home again.
“The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.”
He has “pitched his tent” in our backyard.
He walks our streets.
He attends our schools.
He holds a job at Ace Hardware, Phillips Petroleum or TexDot.
God lives with us. God lives among us.
In your grandchildren singing at your birthday party…
as well as the children crying in detention centers and refugee camps.
God lives among us.
In the smile of your girlfriend or the bravado of your boyfriend…
as well as the drug addict with missing teeth.
God lives among us.
Christ was not welcome in his hometown.
Has he found a welcome in ours?