To understand the truth of the Incarnation – that the immortal God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, became a man – we have the definitive testimony of Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition of the Church. But to really enter into that truth, and to believe it for ourselves, we need to enter more deeply into a relationship with the same Lord Jesus.
For me, one of the many beauties of the Incarnation is that the once-invisible God now becomes visible. Jesus Christ was a man with a certain skin tone and eye color, who carried a physique with a certain cut and height. There was a specific timbre to his voice and a unique way he used his hands, both as a carpenter who built furniture, or a rabbi breaking bread. He was a traveling itinerant preacher – a man on the move with feet, and yes, toes.
For several years now, at the long-ago urging of my pastor, I make a weekly holy hour. Most Fridays you’ll find me down at the church were I am a regular adorer of the Blessed Sacrament.
I sit or kneel and face Jesus, present in the Host set within the monstrance that you see in the photo accompanying this article. And we talk. It’s my weekly “appointment with God”, very different in setting and activity than my attendance at Sunday Mass, or my daily prayers at home.
In this particular adoration chapel, directly above the monstrance, is a statue of the Risen Jesus, arms outstretched. Faithful to the biblical accounts ( Jn 20: 24-28), the wounds of Jesus’ crucifixion are still visible on his glorified body. This depiction of his once-crucified feet extends low into my field of vision, inches away from the monstrance, as I concentrate on his True Presence in the Host.
And as I visit, the statue’s portrayal, and the Lord’s profound nearness in the Eucharist, is an ever-present reminder of “This is my body, which is given up for you (Lk 22:19).“
As I enter the chapel each week, my knees hit the floor and I bend low: My Lord and my God!
Not insignificantly, my Lord and my God has toes.
And I’m struck deeply by the delightful humanity of it all. The precious and weighty reality of the Incarnation becomes, remarkably, accessible. And in that moment of recognition, I find this God, who is undeniably wondrous and magnificent as the Creator of the Cosmos, all at once, very much lovable to my down-to-earth womanly sensibilities.
I have a God with toes. Isn’t THAT amazing?!
I meditate and my own mother’s heart begins to rev in high gear. I start to muse about the Babe of Bethlehem, born to Mother Mary and Joseph. I can picture the delightful scene … where natural motherlove kisses the feet of her newborn. Oh yes! Kissing infant feet lavishes love from head to toe!
Of course, I’m only surmising here, but you get the picture… I can quickly recall my own joy in kissing and counting and adoring those “piggy toes” of my own three children.
But these toes that I find in the chapel, that were once treasured by a young mother, are now mature… and then I’m thinking of another woman.
I envision a woman who was once so transformed by love of this God-made-man – this God with toes – that she sought to lay herself and her burdens at his feet, kissing them and washing them with her tears and her hair. (Lk 7:37-38.) Her actions signal surrender, and a yielding to sublime love, tender and chastely passionate all at once.
In the next moment, my mind’s eye catches glimpses of those holy feet covered in dust and blood, bearing the weight of a crossbeam, marching relentlessly along the Via Dolorosa. Later, executioners mercilessly pinned those same feet to the “tree” that would bear the fruit of new life for the world.
While Jesus was raised on that Cross, I contemplate that the only thing perhaps reachable to the hands of his mother who stood by ( Jn 19:25-27), were those lovable, aching, wounded feet.
Echoes of that long-ago day remain with me now in the memory and memorial of the Eucharist that is before me in this chapel.
And now it is my turn, woman that I am, to lean in and kiss the feet of Whom I love and want to know so well… the Son of Man (Mt 9:6) who removes all my sin and shame in the moment of such a kiss.
And all at once, I am all three: I am a mother-delighting, and a sinner-confessing, and a believer-rejoicing in the gift of these feet, even these toes…
The Incarnation brings me in touch with Jesus in beautiful ways, and my heart embraces the lyrical words of the prophet Isaiah to describe my fascination and my joy:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him
who brings good tidings… peace,… good,… salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns (Is 52:7).“
Copyright 2010 Pat Gohn