Saturday, December 31, 2016
1) Opening prayer
You gave us your Son Jesus Christ
and let him share our poverty.
He brought us grace upon grace,
for all that comes from you is a free gift.
Accept our thanks for the moments
when we accepted your gifts
and shared them with one another.
Accept our thanks for the times
we listened attentively to your Son’s words
and put them into practice.
Help us go forward with hope and joy
with joy and mutual encouragement.
with the companion in life you have given us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – John 1, 1-18
In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it. A man came, sent by God. His name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness to the light, so that everyone might believe through him. He was not the light, he was to bear witness to the light. The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognise him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself. The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. John witnesses to him. He proclaims: 'This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me has passed ahead of me because he existed before me.' Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received -- one gift replacing another, for the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
• The Prologue is the first thing which one sees in opening the Gospel of John. But it was the last one to be written. It is the final summary, placed at the beginning. In it, John describes the way of the Word of God. It was at the side of God, before the creation, and through him all things were created, Everything which exists is an expression of the Word of God. As it happens with the Wisdom of God, (Pr 8, 22-31), in the same way also the Word wishes to get closer to us and becomes flesh in Jesus. It comes in our midst, and carries out its mission and returned to God. Jesus is this Word of God. Everything that it says and does is communication which reveals the Father to us.
• In saying: “In the beginning was the Word”, John recalls the first phrase of the Bible which says: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” (Gen 1, 1). God created all things by means of his Word. “He speaks and everything is made” (Ps 33, 9; 148, 5). All creatures are an expression of the Word of God. This living Word of God, present in all things, shines in darkness. Darkness tries to overpower it, but it could not succeed. The search for God which is always new, is reborn in the human heart. Nobody succeeds in covering it. We cannot bear to live without God for a long time!
• John the Baptist comes to help people to discover and to relish this luminous and consoling presence of the Word of God in life. The witness of John the Baptism has been very important, so much so that many people thought that he was the Christ (Messiah) (Acts 19, 3; Jn 1, 20). This is why the Prologue clarifies saying: “John was not the light!. He has come to bear witness to the light!”
• Thus as the Word of God manifests itself in nature, in creation, so also it is manifested in the “world”, that is in the history of humanity, particularly, in the history of the People of God. But the “world” does not recognize, does not receive the Word. “He came to his own and his own people did not accept him”. Here when he says people , John wants to indicate the system of the empire as well as that of the religion of the time, both of them closed up in themselves and, because of this, incapable to recognize the Good News (Gospel), the luminous presence of the Word of God.
• But the persons who open themselves to accept the Word, become sons and daughters of God. The person becomes son or daughter of God not because of his/her own merits, neither because of belonging to the race of Israel, but because of the simple fact of having trust and believing that God in His goodness, accepts and receives us. The Word of God penetrates within the person and makes the person feel accepted as a son, as a daughter of God. This is the power of the grace of God.
• God does not want to remain far away from us. Because of this, His Word, gets closer and becomes present in our midst in the Person of Jesus. The Prologue literally says: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us”. In ancient times, at the time of Exodus, in the desert, God lived in a tent among the people (Ex 25, 8). Now, the tent in which God dwells with us is Jesus, “filled with grace and truth”. Jesus comes to reveal who is this our God, present in everything, from the beginning of creation.
4) Personal questions
• Everything that exists is an expression of the Word of God, a revelation of his presence. Am I sufficiently contemplative to be able to receive and experience this universal presence of the Word of God?
• What does it mean for me to be called son of God?
5) Concluding Prayer
The Lord comes,
he is coming to judge the earth;
he will judge the world with saving justice,
and the nations with constancy. (Ps 96,13)