December 31, 2012 (Monday). 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas
1 Jn 2:18-21: A faith community in crisis, yet still trusting in the Holy Spirit.
Gospel: Jn 1:1-18: The magnificent prologue of St. John’s Gospel.
Last Day of the Year: Reviewing the Situation
(NB: All should respond to the Tablet survey: What’s your opinion of the new Missal?)
Today’s Bible sections mirror today’s reality in the Catholic Church, and that of Irish Catholics in particular. A variety of negative forces has badly impacted our reputation and self-confidence. Our crisis is caused in part by serious lapses by individual clergy, compounded by what many perceive as the poor quality of leadership in dealing with these; but it has been much exacerbated by the drip effect of negative reportage, by media figures clearly hostile to Catholicism as such.
The language of John’s epistle suggests that his small Christian community had also been badly shaken by recent events. Their membership has dropped, and no doubt some bitter words have been exchanged when some former members turned their backs and left. But though these desertions felt so critical that it seemed the last hour had come, the author still puts his trust in “the anointing that comes from the Holy One.”
In the event, John’s broken little group, the “Community of the Beloved Disciple” as Raymond Brown memorably called it, did not disappear. The final chapter of John’s Gospel suggests that they re-built their links with the other Christian churches, under the symbolic leadership of Simon (“Feed my lambs”) Peter — and they went on to provide the highest and noblest theological understanding of Christ, the Author of our salvation. The magnificent prologue of John’s Gospel – and fruit of the contemplative mind and heart of the Beloved Disciple – is proof that even after a severe crisis in the Church a new and greater flourishing can emerge, if we simply listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. For “from his fullness we have all received,” and one grace is heaped in place of another, so that we can all become children of God.
So as we hand the remnants of 2011 into the hands of God, we look forward in a hopeful spirit to a better year, both for our Church and for the whole human race, as the calendar starts again on a fresh page, tomorrow.
First Reading: 1 John 2:18-21
Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us.
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.
Gospel: John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but 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 believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son,
full of grace and truth.John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.