”The year draws to a close. December, the final month, is complete. For us Christians, all time is sacred, either in its beginning or at its end. All time is God’s time.” ~ Brother Victor Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette
Interesting that today’s Gospel, the passage chosen for the very last day of the year, the decade even, takes us back to the beginning as it were. John 1:1-18, the Gospel discourse referred to by some as the “Theology of Jesus,” begins in...well...the beginning:
“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.”
As we read on, we collide with that unforgettable phrase, the proclamation they changes everything. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Within this sentence lies the fullness, richness, hope and joy of the Christmas message. As Bishop Barron points out, ”the Greek phrase behind "lived among us" is literally translated as "tabernacled among us" or "pitched his tent among us." According to the book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant - the embodiment of Yahweh’s presence - was originally housed in a tent or tabernacle. John is telling us that now, in the flesh of Jesus, Yahweh has established his definitive tabernacle among us.”
We as God’s children were made for the Word. This we know because we came into being by virtue of the Word. Yet we don’t know the Word; not nearly as intimately and intensely as we should. In today’s 1st Reading, also brought to us courtesy of John (1 John 2:18-21), the message is but a blunt one: “It is the last hour” says John, underscoring the urgency to live in the truth, to avoid a life riddled with lies, for as he points out, “every lie is alien to the truth.” Further adding to the poignancy of this message is John’s astute observation that “many antichrists have already appeared.” So often we are forewarned of the coming antichrist while ignoring the ubiquitous and diabolical nature of this evil spirit currently within our midst. It is in fact everywhere. Do what makes you happy is an antichrist mantra, similar in so many ways to all the empty promises of the devil, the greatest of con-men. Enticing on the surface, self-centered, reckless, irresponsible and fruitless in reality.
“Do what makes you happy!” is the New Year’s message splattered across my Facebook Feed as I scroll through it for the last time this decade, breathlessly authored by those who apparently believe they’ve unlocked the secret to life, a misnomer in its own right; there is no “secret” to life. There is the Word. You either strive to live by it or you run from it, seeking comfort in those things that are not rooted in the the Word and it’s truth.
Without true understanding of the Word, we cannot even entertain the notion of being happy. Without deep knowledge of Jesus, who is the Word made flesh, happiness consists of the sugar rush of secular thrills and pleasures; fleeting, vapid...hollow. That’s not even a watered down version of happiness. That’s not happiness at all.
My prayer for us all as we head into 2020 will be that the new year will bring with it new hope, new life in Christ. We must pray with great fervor. We must immerse ourselves in the Gospels. I’ve come to realize that if I don’t read at least one passage from the Gospel every day, that day was incomplete, a lost opportunity to grow in wisdom and understanding. I can’t waste those opportunities. The Daily Rosary... the Sacraments...an ever growing love for the Blessed Mother, whom we will venerate and celebrate as the Mother of God tomorrow. What better way to kick off the New Year than to celebrate Mary by way of the celebration of Holy Mass?
On the evening of December 31st, 1895, Saint Gemma wrote the following in her daily journal:
“During this new year I resolve to begin a new life. I do not know what will happen to me during this year. But I abandon myself entirely to you, my God. And my aspirations and all my affections will be for You. I feel so weak, dear Jesus, but with Your help I hope and resolve to live a different life, that is, a life closer to You."
.....A life rooted in the Word.