A Father's Precious Gift
by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
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; and 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 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 Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him.
Upon my return to the States after a three-month sabbatical in Rome, I was reminded of one of the great truths in life: It is an enormous blessing to be able to communicate with loved ones face-to-face. While away in the Eternal City, I was able to make use of several means of conversing with my brothers in Youth Apostles, my three blood sisters and my friends. Texting, telephoning and even video Skyping were all enormously helpful ways to communicate across the Atlantic Ocean. However, once returning home to Virginia, I was able to visit in the flesh with those who are dear to me in a much more warm and meaningful way.
In our second reading, the letter to the Hebrews makes a related reflection on the great mystery we celebrate today across the globe. God has lovingly communicated with His beloved children through a variety of means through the centuries. We get a glimpse of God in creation where we see His imprint everywhere and are able to marvel at His wisdom, beauty, authority and creativity. We are also given the privilege of pondering His mighty deeds recounted for us in the Old Testament, such as the event of the Exodus and the establishment of David as the first king of Israel. We are offered the grace of God's wisdom passed down to us through the Hebrew prophets including Isaiah and Elijah.
However, in the fullness of time, God chose to do something almost unimaginable: "Brothers and sisters: In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these days, he has spoken to us through the Son ... " God, the Eternal Father, chose to send His Only-begotten Son down to earth to communicate face-to-face in words and deeds.
This is the Good News that Christians proclaim and celebrate today.
In our Old Testament reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and describes a momentous day in the future, "Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord ... " Isaiah is prophetically preparing the world for the birth and life of Jesus. God will grant us the grace of seeing directly, before our eyes, the Lord Himself.
St. John the Evangelist highlights this incredible gift of being able to see God in His famous prologue: "And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth." In Jesus, we are able to gaze upon the very face of God.
On the one hand, the depth and beauty of this mystery is impossible to fully grasp because it flows from the truth and love of God, which is infinite. On the other hand, we are invited during this Christmas season to celebrate the mystery, to gaze upon its beauty and to ponder its richness. Furthermore, we are welcomed to draw near to Jesus, the Word-made-flesh, and find rest in His presence, especially at Mass and before the Blessed Sacrament in Catholic churches across our world.
Finally, Our Lord reveals a little piece of His heart through John the Evangelist that is worth nothing. "He came to what was His own, but His own people did not accept Him." It saddens Jesus' heart, more than we can probable imagine, that some of the Father's children have failed to accept the supreme gift of His only-begotten Son and to receive new life through the faith-filled gaze upon the face and mission of Christ.
Perhaps the best present we can give to the Christ-child this Christmas is to help one person come to know and love Jesus in the New Year.
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