Thursday 24 December 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015 - Christmas Day - Logos, light, life

To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 52:7-10; Heb 1:1-6; Jn1:1-18

The prologue of the Gospel of John is an extremely rich text. Along with the other readings of today, from Isaiah and Hebrews, which complement it wonderfully, one can gain insight into the meaning of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Unlike Matthew and Luke who begin their Gospels with stories of the birth of Jesus, the Gospel of John begins with the pre-existent WORD and the relationship of the Word to be world. It is Word, which is God, and also an incarnate word, a word made flesh. Thus, the Prologue is concerned with the sphere of God, the eternal sphere and the sphere of human beings, the temporal sphere. Thus, the prologue makes two main points.

The first is that the abstract, the incomprehensible, the unknowable, and the absolute mystery that is the Word (God), has become concrete, comprehensible, knowable, and so the mystery revealed because of the Word becoming flesh. However, this mystery is not as easy to understand as it may seem. Many take offense at this. They want some divine figure, some fascinating, mysterious being, able to impress everyone with feats of might and glory. But what they saw was only a man; a man of compassion, a man who claimed to speak the truth. And they saw n o glory there. No longer can we say that our God could not understand what it is like to struggle against the opposition, to have to flee to another country, to be betrayed by a friend, to grieve the loss of a loved one, to fear suffering and death, to experience a seeming absence of his (or a) father. No, our God has truly walked our walk; God’s Word of Love has truly taken flesh. Through the Incarnation, heaven has come down to earth, and earth and heaven are reconciled as never before. The incarnation means that human beings can see, hear, and know God in ways never before possible. The relationship between divine and human is transformed, because, in the incarnation, human beings are given intimate, palpable, corporeal access to the cosmic reality of God. The story of Jesus is not ultimately a story about Jesus; it is, in fact, the story about God. When one sees Jesus, one sees God; when one hears Jesus, one hears God.

The second point that the prologue makes is the response of humanity to the incarnate Word. Since the Word is not a Word that is thrust on creation, but given freely and in total generosity, human beings must respond to the Word in freedom. This response is either acceptance or rejection.

The rejection of the Word by Jesus’ own people, while being a historical fact, is a rejection that continues even today. Darkness continues to try to overcome the light. Corruption, selfishness, injustice, intolerance, communal disharmony and racial and caste discriminations continue to raise their ugly heads. Darkness prevails when selfishness conquers compassion or justice.

Yet, despite this rejection of the Word, there is a note of hope and promise because there continue to be people who will choose light over darkness and selflessness over selfishness, justice over injustice, who will generously give not only their wealth but also themselves in imitation of the one who became human and gave all. Those who opt for the light will receive grace upon grace from him. This abundance of grace continues to sustain them through the most trying times.

Therefore, the great message of Christmas is that God became what we are, so that we could understand better what God is, and we could believe with all our hearts that God understands what we are.

Those who dare to accept the light and walk in its ways begin to realize that God himself walks with them and ahead of them. They know that in Jesus, Gold chose to live with humanity in the midst of human weakness, confusion, and pain. To become flesh is to know joy, pain, suffering, and loss. It is to love, to grieve, and someday to die. The incarnation binds Jesus to the “everydayness” of human experience. This Jesus continues to be born in our midst even today. When selflessness triumphs over selfishness, Jesus is born again and Christmas happens.

By taking on our humanity, Jesus has shown us that we can be divine and how far we can go even in our humanity. We can love more, we can dare more, we can believe more, and we can be more. Nothing is now outside the scope of our humanity which, after the birth of Jesus, is but always an advantage.

Thus, Christmas is not merely the celebration of a historical birth; a birth that took place over two thousand years ago, It is about becoming conscious of who we really are as human beings. It is the celebration of life in all its fullness. It is the celebration of the transformation of limit to limitlessness, of selfishness to selflessness, of bondage and fear to freedom and unconditional love.

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