Tag Archives: Word made flesh

Feast of St. John:December 27

John evangelist

The Feast of St.John the Apostle (December 27) follows the birth of Jesus because John in his writings– the 4th gospel and letters– answers the great question: Who is Jesus, the child born of Mary in Bethlehem, who lived in Nazareth, preached in Galilee and Judea, died and rose again in Jerusalem?

John uniquely answers that question, and for this reason his feast is placed where it is, two days after celebrating Jesus’ birth. John was one of his first disciples whom he called at the Sea of Galilee to follow him. He knew where Jesus came from, Nazareth, and he knew his family. John was with Jesus in his ministry in Galilee and went with him on his journey to Jerusalem. John sat beside him at the Last Supper; he went into the Garden of Gethsemane with him, then stood beside his cross with Mary, his mother. John witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The Gospel of John and later traditions say John was close to Jesus’ mother, Mary.

The gospel reading for his feast reminds us that John saw the empty tomb and recognized Jesus risen from the dead. “‘It is the Lord,’ he said to Peter” on the Lake of Galilee as the Risen Christ appears. (John 21, 7) John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” had a special relationship with Jesus, human and divine. 

The 1st Letter of John, read in the liturgy after Christmas, tells us to know Jesus Christ through his humanity, just as the apostles did. Like them, we are called to know the One we know in his humanity as the Word of God who is God.

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard,

what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon

and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life —

for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it

and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—

what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you.” 1 John 1-4

It’s so easy to get trapped into politics today, world politics and church politics. We need to keep our eyes on mysteries that are above politics. The Word has become visible and lived among us.

God, our Father, you have revealed the mysteries of your Word through John the apostle. By prayer and reflection may we come to understand the wisdom he taught. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,  One God, forever and ever.

Light in Darkness

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The Easter readings tell us  Jesus Christ is the light of the world, who shines in our darkness. Mary comes to the tomb while it’s still dark. The dark of evening comes as the disciples hide in the Upper Room. The disciples fish all night, in the dark, and catch nothing. Then, Light comes.

Listen to Maximus of Turin’s reflections on Jesus Christ, “Light from Light.”

“Yes, we have the light of Christ, but it is a light that shines in darkness.  The light of Christ is an endless day that knows no night. Christ is this day, says the Apostle; such is the meaning of his words: Night is almost over; day is at hand. He tells us that night is almost over, not that it is about to fall… This is why John the evangelist says: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never been able to overpower it.

And so, my brothers and sisters, each of us ought surely to rejoice on this holy day. Let no one, conscious of his sinfulness, withdraw from our common celebration, nor let anyone be kept away from our public prayer by the burden of his guilt. Sinner he may indeed be, but he must not despair of pardon on this day which is so highly privileged; for if a thief could receive the grace of paradise, how could a Christian be refused forgiveness?”

I like sitting on the porch this morning watching the light come in the morning. It always comes, sometimes muted, sometimes bright and clear, but it always comes.

Today, the feast of St. Athanasius, I was thinking of the Word proclaimed by the heavens and the earth.

“When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,

…O LORD, our Lord,

how awesome is your name through all the earth!”

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Martha

Martha and Mary were not just related  by blood, St. Augustine says, they were related by the same holy desire.  “ They stayed close to our Lord and both served him harmoniously when he was among them.”

Martha served him as the “Word made flesh,” who was hungry and thirsty, tired and in need of human care and support. She longs to share what Mary enjoys, his presence, his wisdom and his gifts. And she will find her desires fulfilled.

“You, Martha, if I may say so, will find your service blessed and your work rewarded with peace. Now you are much occupied in nourishing the body, admittedly a holy one. But when you come to the heavenly homeland you will find no traveller to welcome, no one hungry to feed or thirsty to give drink, no one to visit or quarrelling to reconcile. no one dead to bury.”

“No, there will be none of these tasks there. What you will find there is what Mary chose. There we shall not feed others, we ourselves shall be fed. What Mary chose in this life will be realized there in full.  She was gathering only fragments from that rich banquet, the Word of God. Do you wish to know what we will have there? The Lord himself tells us when he says of his servants, Amen, I say to you, he will make them recline and passing he will serve them.

New Birth

Some beautiful writings on the Christmas mystery. Here are a couple of sentences from Pope Leo the Great, an early pope.

‘We’re called to fill our own place and all the children of the church are separated from one another by intervals of time. Nevertheless, just as all the faithful are born in the font of baptism, crucified with Christ in his passion, raised again in his resurrection, and placed at the Father’s right hand in his ascension, so we’re born with him in his nativity.”

There’s a special on Darwin’s theory of evolution on PBS these evenings. I wonder if someone will speculate about the union of all creation by reason of  DNA and our belief in the  Word become flesh.  It will be interesting to see theology and science exchange their wisdom.

Again, back to Leo:  “In adoring the birth of our Saviour, we find we are celebrating the beginning of our own life, for the birth of Christ is the source of life for Christian folk, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the body.”

Is it also a celebration of the beginning of creation?