Reflections for December are by Bishop Burchell McPherson, Bishop of Montego Bay, Jamaica
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
A very happy and Holy Christmas everyone! May the joy and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be always in your hearts as it is today. For today, we have seen the glory of Jesus in the Church, in the world, in our families, and everywhere we look we see people joyfully celebrating the fulfillment of the promise of God the Father to send a Redeemer into the world.
According to the tradition of the Catholic Church, on Christmas day we do not read Luke’s familiar account of the Christmas story, but rather the prologue with which John’s Gospel opens: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We are told of the Word: the Word who is in the beginning with God and who, at the same time, is God. We are told that the world came into being through this Word, and yet does not know Him. And, perhaps most curiously of all, we are told that the Word has become flesh and has made His dwelling among us, and has given power to become children of God to those who believe in his name.
This magnificent passage provides a powerful opening to this gospel. It lays out the main themes of John’s gospel – Life, Light, Truth, the World, Testimony and the Pre-existence of Jesus Christ. He is the Incarnate Logos or Word, who reveals God the Father to us. Its opening words are the same as the very first words in the Old Testament, “In the beginning ……….” But, whereas Genesis is really speaking of the beginning of our created universe, John goes back much further to the infinite beginnings of God himself, where we find the Word already existing.
What John is offering us today is a look “behind the scenes” of the Christmas story, an opportunity to see from God’s perspective, to get a sense of the deep mystery that underlies what presents itself in Luke’s Gospel. Luke gives us baby Jesus; John gives us the eternal Word. We should realize that they are both telling us the same story. The child in the manger is the eternal Word, who has taken on our flesh, our human nature, so that we too might be God’s children. John’s Gospel shows us the eternal source that lies behind the moving events in Bethlehem of Judea.
The message of peace, justice and compassion is as relevant now as it was for Jesus. Pope Francis said: ‘We are not a ‘religion’ of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ – and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives’. As did John the Baptist in the name of the One he not alone knew, but loved.
Christmas day is a special time of the year. It is a time when our spirits, bursting with joy, are uplifted towards God. It is a day when the glory of God manifests itself very clearly in each and every one of us who are celebrating the coming of Jesus into the world.
Let us pray: Let joy, tranquility and peace be the blessings we associate with Christmas. Let us allow the Lord to increase our faith in all His promises, our hope in the joys of heaven and our love for Him as our all.