Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

A family lights an Advent wreath at their Maryland home. The rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath is lit the Third Week of Advent and symbolizes joy. Advent asks us to wait on the Lord. (CNS photo/Tom McCarthy Jr., Catholic Review)

The Incarnation of Jesus: God with skin on


A little boy was having trouble sleeping and his parent came into his room and said, “You know that God is always with you, right?” To which he responded, “I know Mama, but I want a God with skin on.” Often when we see God working in our lives, it is through people that are cooperating with God’s grace.

Last month, Fr. Frank DeSiano led a parish mission at St. Pius X Parish in Owensboro. He told a story that sticks with me. One day he got a flat tire on a busy road. Thinking he could handle this on his own, he got out the jack and spare. But the last time this happened, he was 25 years younger and was now struggling. Then a gentleman pulled up and insisted he would help. In fact, he did it for him. Fr. Frank offered him $20 for his time and the man responded, “I am a Muslim and Allah has given me this chance to serve you. I cannot accept your money; thank you for allowing me to serve him.”

The point is not that he was a Muslim, although as Catholics our Catechism tells us that we share the same loving creator God as Muslims do, (“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day,” CCC paragraph 841) but rather that God acts in and through people.

In college, I came home for a break and looked up a high school friend. I picked him up and we went to McDonald’s, where we would often go on Friday nights. After hanging out and not finding much to do, I said, “How about we say a prayer and ask God to use us?” He shrugged and said, “Fine with me.” We said a prayer and got back in my VW Bus. As we drove along the Fox River in St. Charles, Ill., I thought I saw something in the ditch. Tim said he did not see anything, but I turned around and rode off the road to shine my lights into the ditch. There was a person lying there.

We found a young lady, who was quite inebriated and angry. We sat with her for 15 minutes and found out she lived an hour away, got in a fight with her boyfriend and he kicked her out of the car and left. We finally earned her trust and offered to get her home. When we dropped her off, she said, “You two are the nicest boys I’ve ever met.” God sent us to get that girl home safe.

We celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus at Christmas. God sent us a person with skin on to walk among us reflecting the love of God in all his actions. As his disciples, we are invited to participate in his mission of making present his kingdom. May you be filled this Advent season with God’s love and overflow to be God with skin on for others.



Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship. He wants to hear from you and maybe feature your questions in his column! Please email questions and comments to [email protected].

Originally printed in the December 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

Current Issue

Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
Contributors |  Riley Greif, Rachel Hall
Layout |  Rachel Hall
Send change of address requests to [email protected]