Nativity of the Lord: Scripture Readings
Read the Gospel of John 1:1-18
Food For Thought
*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love
As a prophet of God, John the Baptist “came to bear witness to the light” (John 1:8) and prepare hearts to receive Christ’s Word by his testimony that Jesus’ mission and person were of divine origin.
The apostles then bore witness to Christ from their direct experience with Him. Rather than merely a charismatic teacher or remarkable healer, the apostle John made clear that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly Man, our Redeemer and Savior Who has approached us in His merciful love.
Just as Moses and the Israelites testified to seeing the glory of God during their escape from Egypt and time in the desert, John the apostle testified to seeing the glory of God return in the flesh through His only Son. After Moses had a direct encounter with God on Mount Sinai, his face shone so brightly it startled the people and had to be veiled. John’s beautiful proclamation expresses a similar effect emanating from his very soul.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (John 1:14)
Moses, John the Baptist, and the apostles experienced close contact with the Lord, but they were a select few chosen by God, the rest of us have to experience it through them rather than directly right? WRONG. John the apostle made it very clear that:
“The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:9 emphasis added)
On Christmas we celebrate our direct encounter with God incarnate, Jesus Christ. He has come to us, and the only thing necessary on our part is to believe in Him and receive Him. From Israelite shepherds to foreign wise men, Christ drew all mankind to His saving presence.
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
Union with Christ means union with God! How can one not be changed as a result of this reality?! If Moses’ sight of God’s back caused his face to radiate supernaturally, consider what the indwelling of the Trinity from Baptism radiates in our souls! Caryll Houselander (1901-1954), a British Catholic artist and spiritual writer, who went through her own faith crisis before recommitting to her Catholic identity, described this new reality so well:
“Because of the Incarnation, our natural life is supernaturalized. Love has become incarnate: God has become human. Because of Christ’s birth, a new stream of goodness is set flowing. Holiness has become the completion of nature: the fulfilling of the law.”[i]
Christ continues to dwell among us through His Eucharistic presence and through us, His Mystical Body. We too have a responsibility to bear witness to the Lord as others have for us.
Christ’s plea to Mother Teresa was:
“Come, come carry Me into the holes of the poor. Come, be My light.”[ii]
Caryll Houselander experienced this need too and writes of it poignantly in a letter to her friend during the war efforts of World War II (when she served at a First Aid Post).
“We were told there would be priests at the Post, but I hear it won’t be so, even in case of a raid – There is only one other Catholic, besides Joan, Iris and I, and that one hardly admits she is Catholic, she told us so as a secret. The atmosphere is incredibly unspiritual – it’s almost frightening, no outward recognition of God at all. It makes me feel how necessary it is for Catholics to carry Christ into these places through our Holy Communions.”[iii]
God is real. He is here. He is present. It has been repeatedly attested to by witnesses. May you and I be added to the witness list!
- Imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph, holding Jesus for the first time.
- Reflect on the witness of Moses, the prophets, John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph, the apostles, the first Christians, and the saints and all Christians since then.
- When have you experienced the closeness of Christ? When has God felt the most “real” to you?
- As Brother Lawrence would say, Practice the Presence of God. Set a reminder on your calendar or a sticky note in your line of sight to remind you of Christ throughout the day.
- Spend time with Christ personally for five minutes two to three times daily. Read one of the Gospels or simply close your eyes and spend the time in silence with His image in your mind.
- Look for an opportunity to do an act of Christian kindness each day.
[iii] Houselander, Caryll, and Wendy M. Wright. Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2005).
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© 2021 Angela M Jendro