Friends, today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.
We hear at Mass one of the most magnificent passages in the Scriptures, indeed one of the gems of the Western literary tradition: the prologue to the Gospel of John. In many ways, the essential meaning of Christmas is contained in these elegantly crafted lines.
But today I would like to focus on how John commences: “In the beginning was the Word.” No first-century Jew would have missed the significance of that opening phrase, for the first word of the Hebrew Scriptures, bereshit, means precisely “beginning.”
The evangelist is signaling that the story he will unfold is the tale of a new creation, a new beginning. The Word, he tells us, was not only with God from the beginning, but indeed was God.
Whenever we use words, we express something of ourselves. For example, as I type these words, I’m telling you what I know about the prologue to the Johannine Gospel; when you speak to a friend, you’re telling him or her how you feel or what you’re afraid of; when an umpire shouts out a call, he’s communicating how he has assessed a play.
But God, the sheer act of Being itself, the perfect Creator of the universe, is able utterly to speak himself in one great Word, a Word that does not simply contain an aspect of his being but rather the whole of his being. This is why we say that the Word is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God”—and this is why St. John says that the Word was God.
Reflect: “And the Word became flesh.” Once you believe Jesus is fully God and fully man, your worldview is changed and you must choose to follow or to reject him. How can you spread this Christmas message, and help people choose to follow Christ?