Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY
Br. Bernard Jean Delcourt, OHC
Christmas 1 A – Sunday 29 December 2013
|“In the beginning was the Word” says John, |
and “without him not one thing came into being.”
We cannot know God directly, but Jesus knows God. Jesus is the fullness of God. And we can know Jesus if we choose to believe in him. And in knowing Jesus, we know God.
John’s gospel does not start with a Nativity of Jesus but instead it puts Jesus squarely at the Nativity of the known universe. “In the beginning was the Word” says John, and “without him not one thing came into being.”
We are left in no doubt that before there was anything, there was the Word. And some of those things that were not before the Word are time, space and matter.
Try imagining existence without time, space and matter. We have a hard time imagining existence without those realities. And indeed, the very fact of “being” did not exist before the Word. The state of Being itself is part of Creation.
In his prologue, John powerfully introduces us to a God who is intimately involved with matter as its Creator, and yet is essentially beyond matter and any of its prerequisites, such as time and space.
And John also lets us glimpse that God is a community of relationship; the Word was not separate from God, was indeed God, and yet was also with God.
This foreword to the Gospel according to John is a masterpiece of simple but powerful poetry. And yet in its simplicity and power, this poetry conveys all the fundamentals of theology.
Before all else there is God and from the beginning, God is loving relationship. For starters, within God’s own nature, God is relationship and love. The Creator and the Word are one, and yet, at the same time, they also are with one another, without stopping to be one.
If it feels like a mind twister it’s because our minds are of this Creation and not from beyond Creation. Our minds are a grace from God and not on a par with the nature and existence of God.
And the God that John introduces us to in the prologue chooses to simplify everything, chooses to simplify our entering in relationship with him by choosing to enter into Creation on the same footing as his very Creatures. The maker of all matter, chooses flesh, a very special matter, to reveal himself to his Creation.
“He was in the world” and “He came to what was his own” and “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”
Suddenly, adoption by God becomes possible by receiving the Word, by believing in his name, which in Hebrew literally means “God saves” (Yehoshua, Yeshua, Jesus).
Suddenly we no longer need to understand God as God beyond ourselves. But we are invited to relate to God as amongst ourselves, as one of us, Emmanuel. We are told “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.” But God has now been made known to us as our Father and we can cry “Abba, Father” at the prompting of the Spirit of Jesus our Brother, sent by God in our very hearts now and forever.
The flesh of Jesus is powerfully manifest to us here today through the sacrament of the Eucharist. This is one way in which we can today meet God that Saves in the flesh.
Another way is that the spirit of Jesus, the Word, is present through the Holy Spirit of God awakening us to his words in our existence. The Word, the Wisdom, the Holy Spirit of God can touch us anytime, whether through the words of holy scripture, or the words of God’s creation writ large all around us.
Any human flesh, any human face, any created thing has the power to shine God’s light and life on you. Make sure to notice that more often.
And these means of relationship, the very threads of this existence; time, space, matter, being are all pure gifts by the will of God. And it is those gifts which enable us to relationship with the Divine by the sheer grace of God.
If God were to will to put an end to time, space or matter, none of our rich relationship with God, within God would be possible anymore. But if we are learning one thing about God, it’s that God never tires of relationship. God keeps trying with us. Thanks be to God.
In the week to come, see if you can sidle up to these 18 verses of the prologue again. Read them aloud a couple of times and see what those words conjure up in you. It is poetry, after all; it deserves to be read aloud and heard to work its charm on our hearts. God is very near to you.
Jesus, you are very near to us. Beloved Word of God, our Lord, our Redeemer and our God, give us to believe in your Light and your Life through your grace and truth. Amen.