Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

CHRISTMAS: MASS DURING THE DAY (In the beginning....)

Jn 1:1-18


THERE IS A difference between the gospel reading last night and the gospel reading today. The gospel of the Midnight Mass, which was taken from St Luke, is historical. It tells us how the birth of Jesus happened with the elements of people, place and time. However, the gospel today, which is taken from St John, is a theological reflection on Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God.

First and foremost, the first words of John’s prologue, “In the beginning . . .,” reverberate the opening phrase of the Book of Genesis. This structure invites us to view Jesus’ birth from the perspective of God. God has already a saving plan for man since the beginning of time. The Son of God has become man, so that, in return, man might become God or will have a share in the divine life. The gospel of John stresses that that this was the divine intention from the very beginning, from the moment of Creation.

Secondly, John uses a philosophical and theological term for Jesus, that is, the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. John tells us that the Incarnation does not mean the beginning of the existence of Jesus. Jesus exists eternally with the Father. He is the eternal Word of the Father. And He is with the Father eternally. Like the Father, He is God, and He is of one being with the Father. The Incarnation of Jesus simply marks His entry into the world, the material world, in which He, who is God and Spirit, has become one of us.

Thirdly, John describes Jesus as the Creator. He says, “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be”. We have been taught that God the Father is the Creator. But God the Son is also a Creator. In fact, the Book of Psalms also testifies to this: “By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made….” (Ps33:6). It was St Augustine who teaches that in every act of God, the three Persons in the Holy Trinity are involved. Thus, the work of creation is a work of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The work of redemption is also a work of the Three Persons, but only the Son of God has become flesh.

Lastly, John describes Jesus as Light. He says, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”. This was also the theme of the gospel last night. Isaiah has prophesied that the people living in darkness would see a great Light. Jesus remain as Light. His Word and His teachings are indeed a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

For many centuries, the Christmas story has attracted a lot of people. The gospel narratives have created the Nativity Scene with angels, shepherds and Three Kings on it. They have also produced Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and Santa Claus. Christmas carols have been played and Christmas cards have been given. And Christmas shopping, Christmas dinner, and Christmas parties have become a tradition.

All of these are good, but the danger is the tendency to forget the reality which is at the heart of all this activity, that is, the Incarnation of the Word, and God’s unconditional love for all of us. Thus, this Christmas Mass During the Day is intended to allow ourselves to pause and to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. St John concludes in the gospel, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. Indeed, God has so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that we will live and will be saved.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all!  May the spirit of Christmas – that is, the great love of God for us – be kept alive in our hearts and be shared to others as well.  AMEN.

 


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