The Feast of Saint John the Evangelist
(1 John 1: 1-4, John 20: 1a, 2-8)
Christ is born! Glorify Him! The Eternal Word, the Only-begotten Son has come into the world to bring Light to those who dwell in darkness. He who is nearest the Father’s heart leaped down from his heavenly throne to bring us nearer the Father’s heart. He who existed before time began has entered into human time establishing an unbreakable bond with all the members of the human race. The beloved disciple who was nearest the master’s heart at the Last Supper recounted all that he had seen and heard concerning the Word of Life to bring us closer to the master’s heart. The joy and happiness John experienced he shared with us.
John’s message to us is that God became man so that we might share in His divinity. God’s only-begotten Son became flesh so that he could be touched by human hands and seen with human eyes. In Christ, we encounter the love of the Father made tangible. He is the Word of the Father that reveals the mystery of life to us. He is the eternal high priest who intercedes for us before the Father. From his sacred heart flows the fountain of living water and the Fire of Divine Love becomes the light for our path. The child born to us is the temple of the Godhead. The glory of God in the face of Christ makes our faces shine. He is our light, and in his light we see light. Our hearts rejoice because the Lord Jesus has let his majesty and glory illumine our darkness.
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we must also be mindful of his passion, death, and resurrection. As an infant, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. As a man, he would be buried in a shroud. He who came forth from Mary’s virginal womb would rise from a tomb that had not yet been used. The magi entered the Bethlehem cave and worshipped the newborn king, the disciples entered the Jerusalem tomb and believed in the risen Lord. The Eternal Word took to himself a mortal body so that we mortals might share in his immortality. The beloved disciple testified to all that he had seen and heard. John’s pronouncement conforms with these words taken from the First Letter of Peter: “Always be ready to explain to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” Today’s feast reminds us that we are among those who have seen and heard. Now it is our time to proclaim, in small ways, or large ways, by our joy, our charity, our life of faith, the One we have seen and heard. I will conclude with a few words from Aelred of Rievaulx’s Liturgical Sermons.
Until now God was above us . . . but today Emmanuel, today God is with us. He is with us in our nature, in his grace; He is with us in our weakness, in his kindness; He is with us in our wretchedness, in his mercy, He is with us in charity, in loving care, with us in affection, and in compassion.