Good Samaritan Sister Elizabeth Delaney, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), reflects on witnessing to the love and mercy of Jesus, the Incarnate Word.

As we celebrate Christmas in our day, the Christian message is often overtaken by commercial values. Because of traditions that we have inherited and gift-giving, the message of Christmas can become lost or hidden. If we have a Christian image, it is often that of a curly haired, pale skinned, rosy-cheeked baby smiling broadly, hands open and kicking his legs. Images of ‘Baby Jesus’ only gives a limited message of Incarnation.

The message of the prologue (John 1) is very different. The one, through whom the world came in to being, the one who is Creator God, became flesh, became one of us, was born of Mary.

One might suggest that our Christmas cards and images could depict something absolutely amazing: Creator God born as a baby, helpless, utterly dependent on his mother. But how could we show that? What image expresses the mind-boggling reality? Only the images that we now use!

As we continue to read the prologue of John’s Gospel, we see what we know: ‘He came to what was his own, and his own did not accept him.’ Perhaps this is why John the Baptist is included in these verses.

John didn’t just come along. He was sent by God. He was sent as a witness. The evangelists present John as one who is totally committed. John’s way of living as something of an outsider tells us about the man. His speaking the truth and challenging others – who would consider themselves more knowledgeable (and perhaps even more faithful) – speaks of his courage and his living witness.

Like John, we are called – even sent by God – to witness to Jesus Christ.

The message that Jesus lived and taught was a message of love and mercy. Today, in any number of countries we hear of Christians being killed. Our response must surely be one of speaking the truth of God’s love and mercy. This is the truth and the light that the Word brings into our world and to which John witnesses.

In receiving a gift the only thanks that we can offer at times, is to live the gift. So in receiving the gift of the incarnate Word, our gift can only be to witness to Love and Mercy incarnate. 

Good Samaritan Sister Elizabeth Delaney, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia, reflects on witnessing to the love and mercy of Jesus, the Incarnate Word. Image credit: Alisa Anton

Daily Reading John 1:6-13

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

An Advent series on "Being Present"