Summary: We need to understand what it means for the Word to become flesh, and dwell among us.
Seventh Day in the Christmas Octave (December 31)
Thirteen Days of Christmas
Every so often you’ll find a columnist or author complaining or inferring that God has no sense of humor, or that the Church is too serious. Today’s readings, on this last day of the year, prove that to be false. In the first reading, John is telling us that it is the last hour. In the second, John is telling us that Jesus, the Word, is the beginning. This day is the last hour of 2014. At midnight we celebrate the beginning of the new year. So, religiously, are we at the end, or at the beginning. Well, the funny part is that the real new year started five weeks ago, with the first Sunday of Advent.
Our secular means of timekeeping is not God’s clock or calendar. God operates on His own timetable. In the beginning, which was entirely outside time, outside a creation that did not yet exist, the Word of God was spoken by the Father, and, being a perfect expression of the Father, the Word was God. The Father loved the Word, and the Word loved the Father. Their love, One Love, was perfect, and so outside time, this perfect Love completes the Trinity and unites Father and Son in a divine Person, the Holy Spirit. This Love overflowed into creation: light and life, all the physical and spiritual world made good by the Blessed Trinity.
But there was rebellion, a darkness in the spiritual realm that was personal. The darkness was in one angelic being, whom we call Satana, the adversary, who was meant to be the greatest of created light, but who chose darkness instead. The light of Truth exposed the darkness, even when man and woman joined Satan in rebellion. The Truth was then a promise–I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between her seed and thy seed. He shall crush thy head, and thou shalt wound His heel.
A man was sent from God to bear witness to the Light of Truth, who came before that Light, but who existed after the Light. This Light, this Truth, came into the world at Nazareth, where the woman spoken of in Genesis, Mary, heard the Word of God and conceived the Word of God without the aid of any human male. This divine Person, Truth Himself, spoke the Truth to God’s people, but they turned away from Him, by and large. But some did receive Him, some were reborn through faith and received the same power that animated Him, that enlivened Jesus the Messiah.
This is what it means to say the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This was an historical event, truly, but it was not just a first-century event. Those who became children of God acted as Jesus did to give rebirth to others who would believe in Him, sacramental rebirth through water and the spirit and the Body and Blood we share in communion. We receive this fulness through the Spirit acting on material things, water, wine, bread, and human bodies. Grace is piled onto grace, the grace we need to be transformed into living images of Jesus Christ. The Word becomes flesh on our altar and not only dwells in our tabernacles, but is taken into our bodies and changes us. We then can do good and not evil. We then can become the Church that Jesus wants us to be, transforming the world, little by little, family by family.
We end 2014 with this reality: Jesus has not yet returned in glory. We see little flashes of His glory from time to time, in an insight gained through meditative prayer, in a word spoken in passing by another Christian, or even non-Christian, in an inspirational song or chant, in so many things we usually don’t notice until after they have happened. But the triumphant Christ who will destroy death and sin once and for all is still in the future. At the same time, we know that what I call the Big Antichrist has also not appeared. Thank God for that. This is the evil one who will even come close to misleading the whole of God’s people. Yes, there are what I call little antichrists. Anti-Messiahs. As Jesus lived the words, “God’s will be done,” so these antichrists live the words, “my will be done. God’s will be (expletive deleted).” Each of us when we committed mortal sin were acting as a lower-case antichrist. Each of us either needs to repent of those actions committed during this past year, or we have already done so. God will forgive us in the appropriate manner. Let’s resolve on this cusp of the year to be other Christs to our world, always responding to God’s will, as Mary did, with a “yes.”