“The Word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” Jn 1:14.

The beauty of those words reflects the great mystery of the incarnation. God communicated himself to us. “I love you” is embodied in the flesh and blood of his Son. The God of all creation has surrendered himself to the world so that we might live the life he destined for us.

St. John chose to express this mystery using the term “word,” but not just a spoken word but a word which is a living reality. There is an expression used after someone tries to explain his or her commitment: “Could you put flesh on that?” meaning “Could you make it real, make it understandable?”

Words can evoke skepticism. We know that they can be an empty mouthing, stating a desire or a wish without real substance. We hear “I am a man of my word,” which means I represent what I promise to be true. My whole life stands behind the word that I give as a pledge of myself but the word and the being are still separate.

However, when we are speaking of Jesus becoming flesh we are saying that the very Word of God is one united in the being of Jesus, his son. No need for verification; he is the embodiment of God’s truth. No one has seen the Father but the Son who reveals him. The Christmas celebration is a declaration that the union of the divine nature with human nature is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

I know we are in the middle of Advent so why am I speaking of the mystery of the Incarnation? The irony of the word becoming flesh is the difficulty of humanity to recognize the “Word” among us.

It’s not easy to follow a path toward holiness in our world. There are a multitude of voices all clamoring for our attention and at the same time claiming to express the truth. It is so important for us to follow the voices that have our best interest at heart and the clearest voice is that of the “church.”

I must, as a Catholic and Christian, reject those that claim truth is merely an ability to manipulate words in order to secure support for a position or that truth is merely an agreed upon consensus of opinions. There is an objective reality and failure to recognize it will lead us to our own destruction.

It is interesting to me that when society encounters a terrible occurrence such as happened in San Bernardino, California, many turn to God in prayer for the victims and their families, as well they should. Even politicians who have little use for God except to invoke his name at rallies will turn to God, expressing solidarity through prayer. But not all were pleased with those who offered comfort through their expression of prayers for victims and families.

The New York Daily News headline read, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” The headline seemed to be mocking leaders who offered prayers when they could have taken the opportunity to further a political agenda.      

You can agree or disagree with a political agenda bringing solutions to society’s problems; however, no one should demean or diminish the power and comfort of prayer unless that is if you reject God.

We have for over two decades experienced a systematic attack on religion. We live in a society that prides itself in the practice of religious freedom, yet at the same time claims a separation of church and state. Our nation was formed by holding that we would not establish a religion. Yet today the government and society interpret the laws imposed on all of us through the lens of an established religion — the religion of “secularism,” which has become the established state religion.

How do we combat the growing trend to isolate God and the voice of religion from the public discourse? By listening and following the words that express the presence of God and religion, not in the editorialized and censured words in the secular publications media, but through a Catholic media which seeks to inform and form the person through the “Word” which reveals the teachings of Jesus and the church.

You are holding in your hands the Catholic Herald. This archdiocesan newspaper presents you the stories that reflect a Catholic perspective and a challenge to the secular papers that embrace controversy and division. Every Catholic household should have a Catholic Herald in order to understand the Catholic culture in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. At times, read it just to know what the aarchbishop is thinking.

Relevant Radio has been a force in shaping the Catholic culture in the archdiocese. I can testify without prejudice that I encounter many who begin to listen and become avid fans. One area that I constantly hear is in need of attention is adult religious formation. Relevant Radio provides an easy and accessible vehicle to bring adult formation into the home, car or iPhone.

Check out my classmate, Fr. Richard Simon, and his program, “Father Simon Says,” formerly “Father Know It All,” an informative, insightful, intelligent program wrapped up in a wonderful personality.

We are blessed to have five Catholic colleges and universities in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Take advantage of the educational programs they offer — programs which inform and enlighten Catholics.

Many of our parishes have DREs (directors of religious education) who provide local members with information concerning topics of interest to the Catholic parish.   

We must challenge the secular culture by forming our Catholic community through the WORD. And only those who understand and appreciate the WORD can communicate the WORD with grace and truth.