|by Angela Lambert|
December 25th, 2016; Christmas Liturgy
Gospel John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became 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. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.
Why, on Christmas, do we read John’s lofty, deep, theological reflection on Jesus as the Word, or Logos, rather than a quaint story of Mary and Joseph in the stable? Let’s consider. For the past four weeks, we have contemplated the coming of Christ. We examined the spirit of repentance necessary to receive Him, which John the Baptist so boldly and faithfully proclaimed. We reflected on Mary’s fiat, her “yes” that made the Incarnation and our redemption possible, and Joseph’s “yes” which provided the incarnate Lord with a family. Hopefully we have developed a deep appreciation for the Lord’s covenantal relationship with humankind, His desire for relationship, and His gracious condescension to include us in some small way in His work of our redemption.
Now, on Christmas Day, the Church invites us to stand in awe together, as God the Son, the Logos, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, who took a human nature at the moment of His conception, makes the invisible God visible at His holy birth. Jesus Christ, God and man, born to die, once and for all debunked any misconceptions we may have formerly held; whether that of the distant god of the desists, or the hedonist, narcissistic gods of the pagan mythologies.
I love so very many verses in the Scriptures, but John 1:14 is my absolute favorite. John the beloved disciple, passionately gives witness to his ineffable gift of seeing God: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory.” John identifies Jesus as the Word, or Logos in Greek. In doing so, he affirms Jesus’ eternal divinity. Lest we be deceived into thinking Jesus existed merely as an exceptional human person in history, John makes clear that the Son of God, through Whom all things were created, has taken on a human nature to redeem His creation.
Recall in Genesis chapter 1, the way in which God created. “And God said, ‘let there be light’, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). God created out of nothing, by speaking. To speak, we employ words. Thus, Church Fathers have described the Trinitarian work of creation as God the Father speaking, God the Son as the Word spoken, and God the Holy Spirit as the goodness by which everything was declared good. On Christmas day, therefore, we contemplate this beautiful and gracious mystery, that the Word through whom we received our existence, also became man to restore our fallen nature to its original end – union with God.
God’s love however. always exceeds our expectations and knows no other possibility than generosity. Thus, John describes Jesus’ mission from the Father as establishing “grace upon grace”. By this he means that instead of merely restoring us to our original manufacturer settings, Christ elevated our nature to an even higher order. Through Baptism, God dwells in our very soul. Through the Incarnation, our human nature became forever united to the divine nature in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Not even the angels can boast of this.
People first encountered Jesus as a man who then demonstrated He was God. John invites us today to contemplate that Jesus is the eternal God, who became man. Moreover, the God made man, Who opened for us entirely new horizons of living through the power of His grace and the gift of being children of God.
God literally dwelt among us, and He continues to literally dwell among us in His Eucharistic presence. He united Himself with our human nature, and He unites with our soul personally at Baptism and ever more deeply the more times we give Him our own “yes.” When we do this, we, like John, “see His glory.” Christianity, at its foundation, is not a religion of “the book”, it is a religion of “witness to the risen Lord.” Yes, this is expressed infallibly and inspired by the Holy Spirit through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. However, contrary to secular assumptions about our faith, we do not believe because we have found a convincing philosophy in a book we read by a great guru (similar to say Buddhism), but because we have encountered the risen Christ – real, alive, and active in our lives. We have proof because we have seen the transformation that He has accomplished in our souls, which we know is not false modesty but a true miracle. Like the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4, overcome with joy and astonishment, we witness to this encounter and invite others to “come and see.” Eventually they can say, as her fellow villages exclaimed, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
God has made His dwelling with us – Halleluiah! His light has cut through the darkness and given us hope. The Word has become man and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory!
- Consider Christ’s divinity.
- Reflect on His divine attributes – eternal, perfect, infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving.
- Reflect on His eternal Sonship to the Father.
- Contemplate His work in Creation. Re-read Genesis chapter 1 and consider Christ, the Word, at work in our original beginning.
- Consider Christ’s Incarnation and Redemptive work.
- Reflect on how the Son became man, to suffer and die for our salvation.
- Human persons are made in the image and likeness of God. Because of Original Sin and the Fall, we distorted that image. Consider how Christ is at work in a new creation, restoring and elevating human kind to an even higher level of union with God.
- Consider your witness of seeing Christ’s glory.
- How has Christ transformed you. How has He freed you, strengthened you, enlightened you, and loved you?
- In what ways do you experience Christ’s nearness?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- If you, like John or the Samaritan woman, were to give witness to meeting the Christ and seeing His glory, what would you say? Write a testimony of your own eye witness of Christ’s true presence and saving action in your own life.
- You don’t have to share it with anyone. You can simply take it to prayer and offer it as a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
- At the same time, as St. Peter advises, “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1Peter 3:15). If an opportunity arises to share your testimony, pray for the grace and courage to give loving witness.
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016
|* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address.|