An old Russian tale tells of Prince Alexis
He lived in a luxurious palace, while all around him the peasantry existed in squalor, poverty, and misery.
Alexis was moved with compassion at their plight, and wanted to help in some way.
He left his luxurious surroundings, and walked amongst them, but he had no point of real contact. They were in awe of him, and treated him with great deference and respect.
Therefore, he could not win their confidence or affection.
His visit to them proved futile, and he returned to the palace, a defeated and disappointed man.
Some time later, a very different man came among the people. He was rough and ready, with no airs or graces. He was a doctor who wanted to devote his life to helping the poor.
He rented a vermin-infested shack, and lived amongst them. He wore old and tattered clothes. He ate plain, simple, peasant food, and, most times, he did not know where his next meal would come from.
He made no money because he treated the people free, and gave away his medicines.
Consequently, he won great respect and was loved by the people in quite a different way to their Prince, Alexis.
He was one of them. And he managed to transform the place. Not only did he minister to them as their doctor; he also settled quarrels and reconciled enemies. He helped make better lives.
Eventually, of course, his secret was discovered. The doctor was none other then Prince Alexis himself. Alexis had deliberately abandoned the palace and gone down to the people and lived amongst them……to fully identify with them in their need and in their suffering, in order to help them and make their lives happier and stronger.
Jesus said ‘I have come to give life, life in all its fullness, life in abundance.’ In Jesus Christ, God left his lofty heavenly home, to come down into the human condition – to be like us – to be for us and with us…..God Incarnate….Emmanuel…..whose coming we greet at this Holy time.