Weekly Gospel Reflection — The First Sunday of Christmas
In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with G‑d, and the Word was G‑d. From the very beginning the Word was with G‑d. Through him G‑d made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him. The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
G‑d sent his messenger, a man named John, who came to tell people about the light, so that all should hear the message and believe. He himself was not the light; he came to tell about the light. This was the real light — the light that comes into the world and shines on all people.
The Word was in the world, and though G‑d made the world through him, yet the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own country, but his own people didn’t receive him. Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become G‑d’s children. They didn’t become G‑d’s children by natural means, that is, by being born as the children of a human father; G‑d himself was their Father.
The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son.
John spoke about him. He cried out, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘He comes after me, but he’s greater than I am, because he existed before I was born.’ ”
Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another. G‑d gave the Law through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus the Christ. No one has ever seen G‑d. The only Son — who is the same as G‑d and is at the Father’s side — has made him known.
I love the Gospel of John. It’s my favorite book in all the Bible. There’s something fantastic about it — something that speaks deeper than the other books.
Take this opening as an example — “In the beginning…” Any person reading or listening to this passage with ears to hear would instantly be taken back to Genesis 1. John’s clearly telling the creation story, but he’s telling it in a new way. A different way. A deeper way.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote of this deeper way. Quoting from the Jewish Scriptures, he stated,
No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what G‑d has prepared
for those who love him.
But G‑d revealed these things to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches out everything and shows us G‑d’s deep secrets (1 Corinthians 2.9-10; NLT2; adapted; emphasis added).
This is a very important passage for no other reason than the context. Often times we see the “No eye has seen…” bit quoted in posters, promise verses, and memes on social media. They give off the impression that there’s still something to be uncovered. However, Paul plainly states that the “deep secrets” of G‑d have already been revealed.
In Ephesians 1, Paul discloses what G‑d’s deep secret is. He wrote,
In all his wisdom and insight G‑d did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan (which G‑d will complete when the time is right) is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head (1.8b-10 GNT; emphasis added).
John’s telling of the Jesus story is his version of G‑d’s secret plan. From the beautiful opening to the haunting commission to continue the work (John 20.19-23), John paints the picture of all creation coming together in Jesus and being birthed into something new.
This newness, however, isn’t something foreign to us, but buried deep within us. Contrary to one of the foundations of most Western Christian thought, John states that the light of the Creator has never been removed — “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out” (verse 5; emphasis added). In other words, the coming of Jesus didn’t usher in something unknown or alien. It revealed what was already there, buried, as it were, under layers and layers of sin and falseness. The coming of Christ isn’t about destroying creation. It’s about birthing something buried deep within the chaos. Something we’ve forgotten.
This Christmas season, may the Holy Spirit bring to our remembrance the New Creation brought about by the Christ child. May the Spirit open our eyes to all of the ways G‑d’s Realm is established in the world. May the Spirit give us the Grace to be Christ to those we meet and to find Christ within them. May the Spirit give us the courage and strength to continue the work of Jesus by bringing Good News to the poor; releasing the captives; opening the eyes of the blind; freeing the oppressed, and proclaiming in action and word that G‑d’s favor has come.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
1. Scripture quotations marked (GNT) are from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version — Second Edition. Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.
2. Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.