John 1:1-18 The Word made Flesh
This is the first Sunday in Christmastide, that wonderful 12 day feast that is over for most of your friends. Why 12 days? In the year 567 AD, the Council of Tours, which is in France, “proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany as a sacred and festive season, and established the duty of Advent fasting in preparation for the feast.”
Christmas is over for most of the world. For many it is the culmination of the frantic shopping, the party going, the house decorating, along with a well lit tree, and the opening of gifts. The Christmas music has disappeared from the stores and the radio, and people are beginning to take down the trees and the lights. Christmas has been secularized by the media for a long time.
The department store Santa Claus has taken the place of St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, for whom he was patterned. Christmas has not always been so popular. In fact it was banned by the Puritans in the 17th Century as being too Romish for one thing, and too raucous for another. It seemed the celebration of Christmas had become like one very long office party. A public notice was published: “The observation of Christmas having been deemed a Sacrilege, the exchanging of Gifts and Greetings, dressing in Fine Clothing, Feasting and similar Satanical Practices are hereby FORBIDDEN, with the Offender liable to a Fine of Five Shillings.” And people think there is a war on Christmas now!
It is true that the celebration has become quite secular, and if it wasn’t for some manger scenes in various places, some people may even forget who is being celebrated. Christmas is the Feast of the Nativity, wherein the “Mass of Christ” is celebrated, and it lasts 12 days.
Our tradition at St. John the Divine is to cap off the season with a 12th Night Party, which will be January 5, at 6:30. We will eat and drink and play games, and spend time together as a family. I’m not sure it will be raucous, but there will be fun and games!
Christmas is the celebration of one of the greatest miracles of all time. It is the condescension of God to live among us as a human being. It is the Holy Incarnation, the Word made flesh, as St. John put it. In the beginning of the Gospel according to St. John, we heard the well known prologue about the Word.
The Greek word is “Logos,” from which we get the English word “logo.” A logo is a symbol that represents something, like a church or a business. The logo of the Anglican Church in North America is the globe and the shield of St. George, a white shield with a red cross.
The Greek Philosophy of St. John’s time had a concept of the Logos as the rational principle that holds the universe together. The word “logic” is rational thought, and a means to persuade someone of a particular stance. It is one of the three ways of persuasion of Aristotle, which are the ethical, the passionate, and the logical.
The Jewish concept of the logos was the Word spoken by God in Creation. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. During each of the six days of Creation, God spoke the Word and creation came to be. So, in the prologue of the Gospel, St. John is using tying these concepts together to persuade his readers of the truth of the Incarnation.
John 1: 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This is a recap of the creation story in light of this logic. He is setting out the argument for the existence of Christ as the center of creation. Without him nothing was made. He existed with God from the beginning. He was not a creation of God, but is true God.
St. John also explains that the Light of all people is Christ. He later quotes Jesus in that famous verse, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is the Light and Life of all people.
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
In the face of Christ we see the glory of God. This is part of the plan for the Incarnation of Christ, that he would make known to us the true person of God, the Father, the creator of heaven and earth.
With Christ among us we have the perfect image of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:14
That is the beauty of our Catholic Faith, that God came to live among us, to show us how much he cares for us, and loves us, to give up his flesh and blood on the cross for us.
I feel so grateful for Jesus who came to live in my heart by his Spirit. He raises me out of the muck of my own life to the holy mountain of God. He allows me to stand at this altar and hold the body of Christ in my hands as I re-present his sacrifice. And he allows me to minister to you, dear people of God, to fulfill this high calling.
Always remember that my primary goal is to be here for you, whenever you need me, to present your needs to God the Father, and to minister his grace to you, in the Name of Christ. I thank you for your support in this ministry to you and the wider community.
Your ministry to this entire community, in part through me, but in larger part to the organizations you support. Our heavenly Father and I appreciate you very much. The Spirit of Christ is alive in you because the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. O come let us adore him. Amen.