03Jan 03/01. Second Sunday of Christmas

1st Reading: Sirach 24:1-2, 8-12

Lyrical praise of the wisdom God has revealed to us

Wisdom praises herself and tells of her glory in the midst of her people.
In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth,
and in the presence of his hosts she tells of her glory:
“Then the Creator of all things gave me a command,
and my Creator chose the place for my tent.
He said, “Make your dwelling in Jacob,
and in Israel receive your inheritance.”

Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me,
and for all the ages I shall not cease to be.
In the holy tent I ministered before him,
and so I was established in Zion.
Thus in the beloved city he gave me a resting place,
and in Jerusalem was my domain.
I took root in an honored people,
in the portion of the Lord, his heritage.

2nd Reading: Epistle to the Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18

We are God’s adopted children, through his only Son, Jesus

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.

Gospel: John 1:1-18

The eternal Son of God has come to us, full of grace and truth

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 into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John . He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he 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 into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.


The Word Became Flesh

In 1850 John Millais (1829-1896) painted an imaginary scene in Joseph’s carpentry workshop, entitled Christ in the House of His Parents. The teenage Jesus has had an accident, and blood is streaming from his hand, and his mother Mary is there consoling him. Although only an imagined incident, it conveys something of what St John means in the deepest truth of his Gospel, namely that The Word became flesh.


Because the Word actually became flesh, he became vulnerable. The human being, Jesus, felt the same range of emotions, joy, sorrow and anger, as we do. He loved other people, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, his disciple John and the rich young man. He even cried at times of severe personal stress, as when his friend Lazarus died and before entering Jerusalem when he knew that the city would reject him. He enjoyed social and dinners, so that his critics mocked him as a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners. He felt pity for people in need, as when he multiplied the loaves and fishes. He got angry when the authorities used the Temple for the wrong purpose. He needed companionship, so he took Peter, James and John closely into his confidence. At the end of a long day he fell asleep in the boat, tired like any of us. He felt fear before his passion, “Father let his cup pass me by” and openly admitted, “now my soul is troubled.” We can imagine the depth of his feeling, and realise that When John wrote that the Word became flesh, he really meant it.

The Word pitched his tent among us, like somebody sharing in a journey. Jesus didn’t just come to join the wealthy, living quietly and comfortably in their gated, guarded communities. He became flesh and dwelt among the masses. He was a man of the people. That’s why the social and religious leaders called him a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners. When curing lepers he actually touched them with his hands. Lepers were forbidden to come into the towns and Jesus would be ritually impure for touching a leper so he would need a purification rite before entering a Temple or synagogue again. But he was a man of the people, here for us, and so Law or no Law, when a leper wanted healing he touched him. As the man for others, Jesus concentrated on those who really needed him most, the marginalised and the sinners. This the ideal of pastoring promoted by pope Francis, who once famously urged bishops and priests to be shepherds, carrying on themselves the smell of the sheep .

Making him known

The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and made the Father known to us. The last line of our Gospel today says, No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John is saying that the Word became flesh so that we would get to know the Father. Jesus is the revelation of God the Father. How can we get to know the Father? The best way is by getting to know Jesus. He is the way, and the truth and the life . When Philip asked, “Lord, show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied,” Jesus said “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” He himself, the Word made flesh, IS the way to the Father. If we want to know the Father, we must get to know Jesus. We cannot say that it is too difficult to get to know God. He has revealed himself to us in his Son Jesus. [MH]


2 Responses

  1. Jose Vattaparambil

    Thanks for inspiring me, so that I can inspire others. May you be inspired to write more for the Lord and for others.

  2. Padraig McCarthy

    Who is this extraordinary character whose birth two millennia ago we’ve celebrated, and because of whom we are here today? How can we find words to express what goes beyond all words?
    The Prologue to John resembles Hebrew poetry, with parallelisms repeating and developing ideas with variations on the themes, as a composer might do with music: searching to convey how Jesus transforms our lives.
    Remember the song “Danny Boy”? About 40 years ago a friend of mine came for her first visit from USA. Her surname was McCarthy – not related to me! – and she and her husband were both of Irish ancestry. I remember she had told me that every time she heard Danny Boy, she cried. We went with my mother to a concert in the RDS. They played Danny Boy. She cried. Some music touches a person in such a way that the music enters the heart and mind and soul, as if we can become the music. The music is made flesh in us. Is there a piece of music, with or without words, or perhaps a poem or piece of writing, which, if it comes on the radio, you tend to stop what you’re doing and just absorb it? Perhaps you become the music in total silence, or by tapping a finger or foot, or by swaying and moving with the music. The music takes flesh in us.
    If music and words can find flesh in us in that way, how would the Word of the God who is love find flesh in us? Jesus is the Word made flesh; I am his disciple, his follower: how can I embody the Word of God in my life, so that others may, through me, find and hear and see that Word of life and hope and healing and peace, and that we together may be transformed by progressively becoming Word made flesh?
    Our Jerusalem Bible translation says: “To all who did accept him, he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself.”
    There is a small but critical error in this. Where this has “who was born”, the Greek is plural: “who were born.”
    So the New Jerusalem translation (and others) get it right: “To those who did accept him, he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name who were born not of human stock or human desire or human will but of God himself.” We are the ones who are (re)born in this way.

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