•Isaiah 52: 7-10; Titus 3: 4-7; John 1: 1-18•
Scripture Readings: Christmas Mass During the Day
(Note: for the second reading, on the USCCB website, go back to the Mass at Dawn or get out your Bible as the second reading in the link above is different.)
“Mom, Noah’s going to shoot me with a rubber band!”
“Mom, Alex was squeezing my neck!”
“Mom, Noah is copying me!”
“Mom, Alex took my Pokemon cards!”
“If you two boys can’t stop fighting, I’m going to cancel Christmas!”
That was the introduction of a Christmas letter I received last year from a dear friend of mine in Bozeman. We first met when she was an outstanding student at the University and very actively involved in Christ the King. Justice and peace issues were big on her agenda. Today she is well married, and an excellent teacher. Their eldest son is a student at the University. Their two youngest – twins Alex and Noah, obviously are still at home.
Her letter continued, “the fact that my threat worked didn’t surprise me. The fact that I actually said it did! While I was stewing in my maternal crisis, Alex came into the kitchen and said, ‘Mom, do you know what one of the big problems in the world is?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘That some people can get really, really rich, and most of the people are poor.’ ’Yes, that is a problem,’ I responded with regret and relief. I have to say my heart grew two sizes that day. My children did have a larger worldview than hoarding Legos and trying to sit on each other’s heads.”
She continued, “two weeks ago Noah got an icicle stuck on his tongue in -15 below weather. He kept saying to Alex, ‘GahgehMah . . . GahgehMah.’ It took Alex awhile before he understood ‘Go get Mom!” He frantically ran and told her, ‘Noah’s tongue was stuck on an icicle! But I couldn’t understand him, and then it took me so long, he ripped it off himself!’ Noah stood behind with his tongue sticking out and the offending icicle in hand. ‘Are you okay?’ I asked. ‘Yeh, but my tonguh huts’.”
I share Katy’s Christmas letter because it is so funny and so real! The point behind her stories was simple. “The world needs more love, not less! I couldn’t cancel Christmas! Christmas is the deep recognition of our common humanity and a powerful love that embraces us with our imperfections.”
Our Gospel text today is the prelude to John’s gospel. No one, including John, has seen the Gracious Mystery we name God. Our ideas and images of “God” are utterly inadequate.
This fourth gospel has no account of a virgin birth. John wants his community to grasp the Christ Mystery. Rather then images of a miraculous birth, John employs philosophical images.
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” In more common words the Risen Christ is the “defining” human life in whom we see, feel, hear and discover what we are, and are to be! “The word was with God, and the word was God,” and “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”We still debate what that means. In the 4th century using such texts, Greek dualistic philosophers viewed the divine and human, spiritual and material, soul and body as separate and divided realms. Greek influence transformed Jesus of Nazareth into an invader from another realm. It soon was a no-brainer to assert that Jesus was both “fully human” and “fully divine.” Medieval artists did the rest.
I think Katy’s Christmas letter grasps or at least hints at “the Christ mystery.” In Christ we are being led into a new level of consciousness where we will begin to see ourselves as a part of who God is, and God as a part of who we are. God is not a supernatural being far off in remote space. The world is not God. God is not the world. But God is the center of all that is. John asserts that Jesus –“came so you might have life, and have it abundantly.” He leads us across the boundaries of fear that separate us into new dimensions of life and living. A little boy with his tongue stuck to a frozen icicle reminds me of what Christmas is about. Christmas is about love and life, and that — love and life summarizes “the Christ Mystery.” Merry Christmas!