27th December (Friday). Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist
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First Reading: 1 John 1:1-4
(What we have seen with our eyes, what we have touched with our hands.)
Beloved: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life.
For the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us. What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.
Gospel: John 20:2-8
(Mary Magdalene meets the risen Jesus- not recognizing him.)
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.
John’s Message of Life
“Why are you crying?” the supposed gardener asked Mary. In the Evangelists’s mind this question was a gentle rebuke, as though she was being asked, “Why are you crying when Jesus is alive?” We would all have reason for tears if that “gardener” could have given Mary Magdalene what she was weeping for, the dead body of Jesus. The question has often been asked, Why didn’t Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus, whom she had known and loved so well? It’s possible that her tears blurred her vision. But there seems to have been something different about the risen Jesus so that He was not always recognized. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were “kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24). The disciples in the boat on the lake of Tiberias did not recognize the man on the shore (John 21). Even Matthew gives us a hint of this when he says that among the disciples who saw and worshipped Jesus on a mountain in Galilee, “some doubted” (Matthew 28).
Even between Peter and John there was some difference in the speed and certainty with which the truth of the resurrection was recognized. They both reached the empty tomb, and both saw the grave-cloths lying there, but it was the beloved disciple who first drew the glad conclusion that Jesus was risen. Immediately on entering the tomb “he saw and believed.” The risen Christ can best be discerned and seen by the eyes of faith.
In the first letter of John we have the same utter conviction that Jesus has passed over through his death into another, more powerful, universally effective form of life. John assures us that he and the others of that generation have experienced. “What we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life.” He has no hesitation in commending this faith to others, in one of the most profound statements in all of Scripture, about the blessings that flow from faith in Jesus – it gives us fellowship, a special kind of union with God. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”