The Incarnation is never explained, nor fully grasped. This is why it is always worth a look again. Its application and ability to inspire wonder are never-ending. This mystery is also why the Incarnation seems to be best described with poetry rather than prose.
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars, and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
See’st thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
—John Donne, Nativity from La Corona (1610)
This is the paradox of the Incarnation. Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb condescends to earth. Jesus had reigned in heaven from eternity past, and was always with the Father. They are the same essence. Now this baby lowers himself, in submission to the Father. How can He which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie? How can the One, who is superior and needs no support, now become One who is lying as a baby? God’s pity for us was so great that He was willing to be pitied (as a child). This baby will be sought after to be killed and rejected (Matthew 2:13-15).
What does the Incarnation say about God? We see, among many other things, His humility, love, and meekness. What does it say about us? We see our need, our arrogance and our refusal to receive Him. Yet, we have hope. Because of Christ’s pity we can be better than merely good people – we can be His friends, born from above. This wonderful truth also expressed in song this season:
Mild He lays His glory by Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth