Mingling with the crowd

Two young men emerge from the doctors rooms, the one with tousled hair looks angry though his anxiety and slack body tell another story. The other, clearly his father, puts a protective arm around him and then their hands lock as they walk to the lift. The father gently guides his son in and helps him select the G button. The coals of my heart glow as I internalise the spirit of their loving relationship, their embodiment of the essence of Divine Love.

A friend wrote these words just as I was searching to say something about a phrase of Irenaeus on Christmas I had just read, the prophets proclaimed his advent in the flesh, by which was effected the mingling and uniting of God and man according to the Fathers pleasure. It always amazes me how the early church so quickly moved from seeing Jesus of Nazareth, the man who walked the roads of Galilee and knew hunger and thirst and tiredness and rejection, to seeing him as the Lord and clearly understood that he was God. Irenaeus after all lived barely a century after the death of Jesus.

Mingling! It is typical of Irenaeus to come up with an unusual word. Somewhere else he writes the Word of God dwelt in man in order to accustom man to receive God and accustom God to dwell in man. God becomes accustomed to dwell in man! I have never read the like of that anywhere else. But, to return to mingling, the implication is moving about in the midst of the people. Politicians are supposed to do it and to learn at first hand the concerns of the voters.

The Christmas picture given by Irenaeus is of a God who so mingles with us that he actually becomes us. He has the same experience as I have: hope, joy, success, anxiety, fear and failure. He shares fully in human life. But then he lives in such a way that he builds on all that is good in our humanity and purges all that is evil. It would be a hard task to describe what is meant by mingling. We can each try it. But one thing is sure. The flesh and blood that came into the world on that first Christmas Day was broken and poured out on Calvary and the blood mingled with the earth we tread each day.

The father and his son emerging from the doctors rooms gave my friend a glimpse of the reality all around us 365 days of the year.

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