Looking back, moving forwards – Seventh day within the octave of Christmas – John 1:1-18

We come to the end of a year and listen to what God’s word says to us. This Gospel holds an amazing attraction. It helps us look back to learn and look forward in hope. God’s word is a creative word who gives life to all, in love. Jesus is the Word uttered by the Father, the word of hope and promise. Jesus, is God’s message to us – he is our Good News. We know that God loved the world and sent Jesus among us.  

Each of the Gospels begins with an account of Jesus’ origins. Mark introduces Jesus to us as an adult, telling us that Jesus was “a man from Nazareth” whose advent fulfils the arrival of God’s salvation as foretold by the prophet Isaiah. Matthew and Luke’s narratives begin earlier still, rooting Jesus’ very conception and birth in the prophecies of old and God’s will to deliver humanity. John, however, pushes his account of Jesus, the Word, back to the beginning of time itself. Before anything else had been created, he was.    

Today’s Gospel invites us to experience and savour the drawing power of the mystery of love beyond all telling. A God who is Life, and Light, ‘The Word’ who moves house, not content to remain aloof from us. One theologian wrote, I searched for God in the heavens but found he had fallen to earth, so I must seek him among my friends. God moves his dwelling, his residence, his house and inserts himself fully into our human story of loneliness, pain, frailty and fragility.

To say that “the Word became flesh” in the first Christian century carried a variety of meanings. Platonists believed that the high god was transcendent and aloof from the world. They also believed that the mind was the superior part of human beings and that the mind had to control the flesh. The flesh was weak and leaned toward pleasure to the excess. The Word becoming flesh would have been a ridiculous statement for Platonists: while a god might assume human-likeness, surely no self-respecting god would actually become human.

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