And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Words always seem to fail us when we try to convey the meaning of the Word who “became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). But words are what we have, so try we must. Poems, like prayers, use words in ways that seek to transcend their immediate meaning and bring us closer to the Word who came to teach us. In the poem, “Incarnatus,” Father Julian reflects on the incarnation and what it teaches us. It is a lovely poem that offers insight about the meaning of Christmas, but also about what we might call the mission of Christmas, to speak in our living the truth of His Birth.


Incarnatus | John Julian, OJN

Bethlehem broadened and filled our horizons,
The stable demanded our hearts in return;
God spoke the Word in the flesh of a Man-child
And wrote with that Body what mankind must learn.

Suffer, he said, but never cause suffering;
Give, while the rest of the world seeks to take;
Die, if it's needed, but never cause dying;
Love, with the knowledge that friends may forsake.

Peace is your hope while others are warring; 
Gentle, your way while the rest are all strong;
Care in a world that has grown past all caring;
Sing to a world that despises your song.

This is your duty, and this your commission:
To dance among those who creep on the earth;
To celebrate life amid deathly confusion,
To speak in your living the truth of my Birth.

I first encountered this poem in a collection of John Julian’s poems, “Eyes Have I That See,” published by Paraclete Press, which can be found here.

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