The Incarnation and Choosing to be Thankful

Maybe it is that Thanksgiving came and Advent is coming, but I have been realizing just how ungrateful I have been and, in light of that, how much more I must remember Christ’s incarnation.

I often want to perfectly curate my situation and my daily schedule to what I think I need in this season of my life, but in fact it is only me trying to get what I want from my life right now. God has given me the life I have in this moment and I must submit to all of it–its particular work and people, and when these things do not change, I must be obedient and faithful to what God has given me to do. Not everything I do will feel rewarding or particularly invigorating, but the fact of the matter is I have been given certain things in my life to do that God actually wants me to do–joyfully and with thanksgiving and love–because they join me to Christ and more fully enable me to love.

God gives us the grace to live holy lives in each moment, and to reject certain moments or to live those moments with contempt is to reject His will and to hate what He has given me to strengthen and to teach me. He reveals Himself to us in every moment, in every season, and when I am ungrateful, I reject the ways in which He reveals Himself to me in my life in this moment.

Every time I complain, I forget Christ. I forget that He suffered in the flesh, and that He, too, participated in the work of the day and the keeping and running of a home. He grew up in a home and He worked as a carpenter. He participated in daily life and He loved perfectly. For only three years at the end of his life on earth did he begin his public ministry. For three years Jesus taught us what it is to love God and one another and He demonstrated it in His life and His love towards others. He taught and He loved–we see it in His public ministry, but He was already doing this perfectly in his quiet, hidden life at home and in His work.

Jesus lived a life of obedience to the will of the Father in every situation, in every season of His life. He was obedient and showed great humility in becoming even a child in the womb of a poor young woman. He grew and He loved and He worked and He lived the life of a faithful Jew in a faithful Jewish family. He taught the people and He fed the hungry and He healed the sick, and when it was time He faced death, though He asked for another way if it be the Father’s will, yet was obedient to death on a cross and the great suffering that led up to that death. He rose again and told Thomas to put his hand in His wound, in His very risen body.

In dwelling on what I want to happen now in my life, I forget all I have already been given, and I forget the incarnation of Christ who, humbling Himself, became a baby in the womb of His mother and grew and became a man. God is not unfamiliar with life and death on earth; he is not unfamiliar with humanity. He knows what it means to have a body and a soul, and to labor to sustain life–both His own and those in His care. In each season of His life, Jesus was faithful and obedient to His Father. He was not rushing for what was not yet to come, and He did not hesitate or hide from what was to come in an effort to have what was gone. Jesus embraced what was given Him and loved in the midst of every moment, even and especially in the midst of His sufferings.

Let us embrace what God has given us to do, no matter what the task, for in being given these things, God grants us humility and grace–the humility to know our weakness and to confess our sin, and the grace to, by his power, overcome sin and be strengthened by our weakness. We can offer our suffering, no matter how small or how seemingly petty, to God, and ask Him to use our suffering to join us to His Son. I am really trying to get better at this, and whenever I am tempted to complain about something, I must remember Jesus and offer myself and all I do for love of Him, remembering that what I do joins me to Him in His incarnation. My life partakes in the Life of God.

Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the immaculate heart of Mary.

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