I am currently eating a piece of candy made by a member of the parish. It is quite good. It has peanuts, rice crispy cereal, peanut butter… and so of course it is good for me! Or so I tell myself. “This is not really candy, this is a protein mix.” Which of course is nonsense. It is candy. And it is really good.
We often justify our own actions by trying to convince ourselves that what we are doing is somehow good for us, even when we know better. Humans are great at justifications. And if we can’t come up with anything better there is always that old standby – the devil made me do it. I wonder what it is that prevents us from taking responsibility for our own actions without justification or excuses. It isn’t only our own actions that we do this with, an accident happens that the first question asked is “whose fault was it?” or we try to assign blame to a event, even when that event was clearly not one that has blame associated with it. But if we can find justification, fault, blame – well then somehow whatever the action it somehow is made right. Either by our excuses, or by assigning fault (and never to ourselves of course).
Christ calls us to a different way. God could have looked at the world and said “well, you have sure made a mess of things haven’t you.” Instead God said “I think I need to come live among you.” When asked “whose fault was it?” about a man born blind he said that it wasn’t the fault of anyone. Christ calls us to a different understanding of our life – to claim responsibility for our own actions, to realize that accidents happen, to strive for reconciliation instead of casting blame.
We are still in the 12 days of Christmas and while much of the world has moved on to shopping discounts and looking forward to New Year’s Eve and (perhaps) football, we can if we choose take the time to reflect on what difference it has made in our own life that God came among us. What difference has it made in our own life that God came not to justify, not to find fault or cast blame, but to live and laugh and cry and love with each of us. How might we take the example of God Incarnate and learn to do the same?
Perhaps it starts simply by saying “I am eating a piece of candy, given by a friend, and it is good.”