Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Apostle Paul (not the famous one) was what we called the homeless African American guy who sometimes showed up at the office of the parish where I served my vicarage in Las Vegas. His name really was Paul, but the title was something we had given him. My supervisor was an easy-going fellow who could talk to just about anyone. He is the one who dubbed this scrawny, loquacious fellow “The Apostle” Paul. The Apostle would stop by for a cup of water and park himself on a chair, holding forth his many opinions about God, religion, the world, and just about anything else. It was always entertaining when the Apostle showed up.
We note today that Jesus was born in the flesh. That seems obvious, but the implications are enormous. By taking up human nature to Himself, the Logos, the second Person of the Trinity, has joined Himself to this suffering humanity, including homeless black fellows of dubious sanity. In fact, he has become fully human so that he might run the human race with us and for us. He has done so that he might release imprisoned humanity from the bondage of sin. Some are caged in cruel oubliettes of the mind, some by the shackles of bodies ravaged by disease, all of us by the moral failings which make our lives miserable. Finally, sin’s ugly consequence, death, shall own us all, trapping us in death’s cold embrace.
Jesus has come to break those bonds and release God’s creation to be what He has always desired it to be – the reflection of His joyful being. The real apostle Paul said that he filled up the suffering of Christ with his own suffering (Colossians 1:24). When the staff at my vicarage congregation showed a little mercy with a glass of water and a little shade from the intense Nevada sun, we were seeing more than just another homeless man, we were both seeing and being the embodiment of Christ who has come in the flesh, our flesh.