What the Spiritual Exercises Taught Me about the Incarnation

by Becky Eldredge

The Incarnation gets me deep down in my core and it stirs intense emotions within me of awe, joy, and gratitude that occasionally bring tears to my eyes. I believe St. Ignatius would call this, “the gift of tears”: tears that come not from sadness, but because we have touched something meaningful and profound. Tears that help us know we are touching on something important that God yearns for us to understand.

nativityWhat is it that wells up within me as I ponder the Incarnation? It is the fact that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The Spiritual Exercises helped me understand what this means. God took flesh in human form not as a man, but as a newborn child—a child that was conceived by the Holy Spirit and placed into the arms of his mother, Mary, and gazed upon proudly by his father, Joseph.

What would our lives be like if God had not become flesh? What would our lives be like if Jesus had not come into our world? I shudder to think of the darkness and lack of hope in our lives.

Jesus came, though, and brought light to overcome all darkness in our world. The Spiritual Exercises helped me understand the Incarnation because Jesus, who came into this world as a newborn child, left our world sacrificing his life for us, before becoming our Risen Lord. The Incarnation speaks of love that is hard to capture in writing.

Understanding how much I am loved makes me love bigger than before and in places I’ve never loved before, and that calls me to action. The Incarnation calls me to be an active participant in helping people understand that the Word made flesh remains with us, dwelling within us through the work of the Holy Spirit. And yes, the sheer understanding of this responsibility can, at times, move me to tears as well.

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Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Dallas, Texas. She holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady and Abby.

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December 19, 2012

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