How do the people around us know that we love them? How do we communicate love? I suppose the most direct way is to tell people. But we all know that communication is much more than words. The way we use words, our tone and our body language and so on adds nuance and meaning to what we say, as does the way we live more broadly. Our words become meaningless if they are not matched by deeds. So we can say that human beings communicate love to one another by what we say, how we say it, and what we do.
What about the love of God? How does God communicate his love to us? God’s love is even more mysterious than human love, but again we can say that God communicates his love through words and deeds. We know God and we know his love because of what he does. But obviously God in his Divinity does not speak and act in the way that we do because God in his Divinity does not have a body. So we find God speaking in the Old Testament, through the prophets, and in the events of Israel’s history itself. In a very limited sense, we can think of Salvation history as being a kind of analogue of Divine body language. God speaks through historical events and so these events themselves become revelatory, they show us something about God’s love.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Incarnation; we celebrate the day when God was born into our human world, into our human family. By taking human flesh, God, without ceasing to speak his Divine language of love, added to this the full range of human communication, he added to this the full range of ways that human beings love each other. He loves us as one of us and, importantly, this means that he opens up the possibility of us loving Him as one of us.
When Mary nursed and cared for her baby, she was nursing and caring for God: God allowed his creatures to love him in a creaturely way. In this way God sanctified human love: made our care of one another a way of sharing in Mary’s care of Christ. In the famous judgement scene at the end of Matthew’s Gospel (25: 40) Jesus tells us: ‘whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me’. By making a gift of ourselves to others, we make a gift of ourselves to Christ. This must surely be the most appropriate response we can make to the gift that we have already received from God: the new life of Jesus himself.