“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….”  What word?  The Word of God.  God spoke His word and the world was created.  God spoke His Word and the world was redeemed.  “In the beginning was the Word.  The Word was with God and the Word was God…”

God gradually revealed Himself to His People.  Through written and spoken word.  Through prophets, kings and priests.  From the beginning, after the fall of our first parents, God promised a Savior, a Messiah, One Who would lead His People out of the slavery of sin and into the Promised Land of freedom.

Little did the people realize that their hopes and dreams would result in God Himself coming down to earth, in all the trappings of a Newborn Child to save His Holy People.  “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word became Flesh and lived among us….”

God’s word would be the spoken word of the Law and the Prophets for thousands of years to prepare the Family of Abraham, the House of Israel, the whole world to receive and accept the Gift of God’s own Divine Son to be Our Savior.

The first word God spoke was the word of love for His People, for “God is Love,” and what better sign of that love, than to fully reveal Himself to His Chosen People by giving us His only-begotten Son, that we might have life, and have it most abundantly — eternal life.

But before this word of love would become Real, God spoke the word of hope, the promise of a Savior, hope in the Promised Land, hope in eternal life. This word of hope would be embodied in His Holy People – the prophets, the teachers of the Law, the kings, the priests, holy men and women who would play a role in God’s unfolding plan of salvation.

The people would wonder — was Moses, the Lawgiver, the Messiah, or Isaiah or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets, King David or King Solomon, or John the Baptist, who preached repentance to prepare the way of the Lord.  Or would the Messiah be a combination of these — the greatest Prophet, Priest and King ever?  Could it even be God Himself Who would come down from heaven to redeem His People?

God spoke His words of love and hope, His words of joy and peace, His words of life and light, to a waiting world, …and the Word was made Flesh when He spoke His final Word — the Good News of salvation, the tidings of great joy, the announcement of peace on earth, good will to all.

“And the Word was made flesh…” in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her humble home in Nazareth, in the untidy stable of Bethlehem, in the manger where animals were fed, in the darkness and coldness of the desert night, in the peace of the Holy Family, in the presence of angels and shepherds.  “The Word became flesh, He lived among us, and we saw His glory, the glory that He has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

In the time between Jesus’ first coming in time, and His second coming in glory, He comes to us again each year during the Advent season, each day in the Mass and the Sacraments, each time we listen to God’s Word in the Scriptures, each time we receive the Word made Flesh in the Eucharist, “and the Word was made Flesh…”

Are we listening to God’s Holy Word of love and joy, peace and hope, and receiving God’s Word made Flesh in His own Son, Jesus, Our Savior, in our hearts?  Or are we listening to the empty words of the prophets of doom and gloom, the scary words of the fiscal cliff or the nation’s debt, the frightening words of war and terrorism?

Perhaps we have listened too long to hollow words and broken promises of politicans these last four years and not enough to the Word of God and the Church during these four weeks of Advent.  Maybe we have put too much stock in the purveyors of secularism and the culture of death and not enough capital in the works of love through our Church.

Ought we not to love and pray that God’s Word of Life and Love might become Flesh in our hearts, in the mangers of our lives, on the path of our journey of faith, in this “Year of Faith.”  Should we not pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and of Israel, Syria and Egypt, Iran and Afghanistan, in the Holy Land and in our own Land of freedom and peace?

Through our lives, through the Church, through our love, through the Sacraments, through the Revealed Word of God and the Word made Flesh — God speaks to His children, announces the Good News of our salvation to all, to the poor and the needy, to the sick and the dying, to the unborn and the elderly, to the hungry and the homeless, to the unemployed and the immigrant, to the prisoner and the soldier, and to those without faith or hope or love in their hearts.  “And the Word was made Flesh….”

No matter how much darkness, Christ, the Light of the World comes again.  No matter how much death and destruction, the Author of Life is born.  No matter how much hatred and terrorism, the God of Love becomes incarnate. No matter how much division and war, Jesus brings peace to our world once again.  Will our Newborn Savior find hearts longing for love, His People yearning to be free, nations seeking peace and all waiting for the King of Glory this Christmas?

The writer is the retired auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Portland.