10 Quotations on the Incarnation: A Christmas Reflection

I invite you today to take a few moments to reflect on the meaning and significance of Christmas. In order to facilitate your reflection, I am offering 10 quotations on the Incarnation and Christmas from a variety of people. Let’s begin with a scripture quote from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews: “Long ago God spoke many times to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his son” (Heb. 1:2).


1) “Incarnation is not yet the resurrection. Flesh in Jesus, as in us, is human, vulnerable, weak, incomplete, needy, painfully full of limit, suffering. Christmas celebrates Christ’s birth into these things, not his removal of them. Christ redeems limit, evil, sin, and pain. But they are not abolished. Given that truth, we can celebrate at Christ’s birth without in any way denying or trivializing the real evil in our world and the real pain in our lives. Christmas is a challenge to celebrate while still in pain.” Ronald Rolheiser, OMI


2) “God enters history and does so in his original style: surprise. The God of surprises always surprises us.” Pope Francis


3) “What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.” Agnes M. Pahro


4) “Incarnation does not provide us with a ladder by which we escape from the ambiguities of life and scale the heights of heaven. Rather it enables us to burrow deep into the heart of planet earth and find it shimmering with divinity.” Avery Dulles, SJ


5) “On the one hand, Mary was just a girl, an immature and frightened girl who had the good sense to believe what an angel told her in what seemed like a dream. On the other hand, she was the Mother of the Son of God, with faith enough to move mountains, to sing about the victories of her son as if he were already at the right hand of his father instead of a dollop of cells in her womb…. When we allow God to be born in us, there is no telling, no telling at all, what will come out.” Barbara Brown Taylor


6) “Action is always superior to speech in the Gospels, which is why the Word became flesh and not newsprint.” Colin Morris


7) “We forget all too easily that one of the big lessons of the incarnation is that God is found in the ordinary. You wish to see God? Look at the face of the man next to you. You want to hear God? Listen to the cry of the baby, the loud laughter at a party, the wind rustling the trees. You want to feel God? Stretch out your hand and hold someone. Or touch the chair you are sitting on or the book that you are reading. Or just quiet yourself, become aware of the sensations in your body, sense God’s almighty power at work in you and feel how near God is to you. Emmanuel. God with us.” Anthony de Mello


8) “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.” C.S. Lewis


9) “The almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” J. I. Packer


10) “What good is it if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago if I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and culture?” Meister Eckhart, 13th Century writer

A Christmas wish for all of us:

That we may grow: in gratitude for God’s all-encompassing love… in appreciation for the mystery of the Incarnation… in our awareness of the connectedness of all creation… in our esteem for the ordinary… in our love and respect for all our brothers and sisters… and in our recognition of the preciousness of our unique gift of life… Amen.


For reflection:

Do any of these quotes touch your heart today? If so, which one(s)?

Here are three Christmas videos. The first is “Mary Did You Know?” sung here by an a cappella group called “Pentatonix.” This version doesn’t have lyrics, but it features the five singers. The second video has lyrics. The third video is Mannheim Steamroller’s classic version of “Joy to the World”—one of my favorite Christmas songs. I hope this music adds to your Christmas spirit!

I welcome your comments below!


  1. Maureen on December 18, 2022 at 8:54 am

    Thank you Sister. Several of these touched my heart this morning and I have written them down to think about this week. (2,3,6 and 9 to be exact 🙂)
    Merry Christmas to you and all your readers!

  2. Missy Butler on December 23, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    I realized today I have not received your email in a long while. I was reminded when I read your reflection in Give Us This Day, “Sometimes I Prefer A Tamer God”.. maybe I was on the Naughty List 😉My Christmas present to myself was going back to Sunflower Seeds. I hope I get back on the Nice list. [email protected]
    Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year to you, Sister!

  3. Christine on December 24, 2022 at 7:49 am

    I, too, discovered your blog through Give Us This Day. Thank you for your wise words of reflection this morning. I needed to hear Meister Eckhart’s words this morning: “What good is it if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago if I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and culture?” That is enough to ponder for the entire day, the whole of the Christmas season, indeed, for the rest of my life!

  4. Mary Petelin on December 28, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    Quotes for quiet reflection! Each one has a message for me!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Merry Christmas!

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