(FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS)
Rev. Mary McCue
What a beautiful Gospel to have before us just after we’ve celebrated Christmas – the season ofLight. And what beautiful lessons John teaches us in this Gospel.
John’s Gospel begins in Heaven – the only Gospel that does so. And it is what scholars have called a Gospel of Transformation. It is not as focused on miracles as other Gospels. Only seven are mentioned in it. It is more about Jesus’ great love for us. Jesus makes God known to us by his example in this Gospel.
And it invites us in to experience that love.
It can happen.
Ignatius of Loyola experienced that love as his life was transformed. Ignatius had been a warrior, a soldier in northern Spain. Severely wounded in battle, he had to remain in bed for several months. During that time, he began to read books about Jesus and the saints. And he let his imagination run free. He began to imagine himself as present at the Transfiguration – at the raising of Lazarus – at the Last Supper. He began to imagine the kinds of questions that he would ask at those events. And he began to experience the Holy Spirit as he imagined, read and prayed. And he became convinced that he could be a warrior of a different kind – a warrior for Jesus. His Spiritual Exercises grew out of his experience. He used them to instruct thousands of people on how to meet Jesus through the Gospels. They are useful aids to prayer to this very day.
Ignatius’ personal relationship with the Gospels led to his transformation. It can be transformative for us, too. By careful reading of this Gospel, by deep prayer, we can experience the deep love that Jesus has for all of us. It can lead us to explore and deepen our individual relationship with Jesus. We can concentrate our thoughts on the love that Jesus shows in his actions and his deeds. By those actions and deeds, Jesus is making God known to us. We receive grace upon grace.
Imagine yourself, as Ignatius did, being there for episodes in the Gospel.
What questions would you ask of Jesus?
In today’s Gospel, often called the prologue, John lays out for us his mystical vision. It begins with the Word, logos in Greek. Ancient Greek philosophers also interpreted logos as the principle of cosmic reason.
In Jewish literature, it is virtually synonymous with Wisdom. John tells us that the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things came into being through him and without him, not one thing came into being.
That’s pretty cosmic! And very wise.
And it guides us to remember that all things are from God, and with God, and through God.
In this Christmas season, this is a great gift. Let us be thankful for it. And let us rejoice in the never-failing love of Jesus Christ for all of us.