Many of us may be familiar with the popular “reality” television series Undercover Boss, which began airing in 2010 during the recession, where either a CEO or upper-level manager goes to work in various entry-level positions for a week in his or her own company.
The boss assumes an alias and fictitious back-story, dresses in disguise, and works among the rank-and-file, often having his eyes and ears opened to a number of issues. Sometimes the boss is quite moved by the dedication of the employees despite difficult conditions or personal circumstances; other times he may have good reason for concern about things. It can also be humorous to watch the bosses themselves struggle at tasks they really have no talent for, and even get terminated for it.
In the end, when the boss’s identity is revealed to the surprised employees, the employees are rewarded or corrected accordingly (but never fired, at least on camera). While the show certainly has cause for some criticism – for instance, how much reality is there when the company is always portrayed favorably – the premise behind the show has some value, and benefits come from the “little guy” feeling appreciated.
Moaning about a boss’s “lack of concern or being in touch” is a common occurrence in workplaces.
It can be a real problem at times, but maybe not as universal as many think. Nonetheless, this sentiment can often find its way into religion, especially among those disposed to complain often about life and perhaps blame everyone else for their problems. This was encapsulated in that awful top-ten song One of Us (1995) by pop-artist Joan Osborne, where she criticizes God for being out of touch with human suffering, if only He were one of us. Though baptized Catholic, it seems she has not let that Faith penetrate (we pray the Holy Ghost to stir up those baptismal graces within her). There have been worse songs that have hit the charts since then, but it demonstrates the point that much complaining closes the eyes to greater realities in play.
After all, CBS was not the inventor of the premise for Undercover Boss; God had that one covered in Eden after Adam’s sin, and it would be far more real than any reality show could ever be.
Through His Incarnation and Birth, God is the original Undercover Boss, taking on human flesh for the redemption of humanity. And unlike any human boss, our Lord was well-aware of the working conditions He was walking into. He knows the name of every employee and knows everything about them, and what they need most. He knew what was in man on account of sin (Jn. 2:25), and so came as man to redeem humanity as man.
In all humility, and with no unnecessary displays of divine power, dispensing with the legions of angels that stood ready at any moment, He is born in abject poverty and lives a hidden life for thirty years doing the most menial of tasks in subjection to Our Lady and St. Joseph. He confronts Evil itself in the desert at the outset of His public life – and wins. Behold: the lame then walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the poor have the Gospel preached to them. But scandalized will most men be (cf. Mt. 11:5-6).
Only in His last few months does He reveal Himself to be true God and Creator of all – and despite the supporting proof of His claim, humanity fires Him by way of crucifixion.
But having borne the burden of our iniquities and becoming like us in all things but sin, He is most in touch with us and invites us to connect our sufferings to His. and for this reason: He rises from the dead on His own power so that we may rise with Him – promotions offered for everyone by grace provided one loves Him and keeps His Commandments – and calls now for Faith and membership in His Church for all until He comes again.
How appreciated we should feel for being visited by God Himself, but how much more should we appreciate and love Him for what He has done.
It should always be a Merry Christmas, because the Manger proves that the best bosses can never be undercover, nor have any need for an alias or fictitious back-story.
December 28, 2020