Note: for all of the Christmas Masses this year, we used the Gospel from the Mass during the Day: The beginning of the Gospel of John.
JOY TO THE WORLD! THE LORD HAS COME!
Is this Joy for everyone? Remember your
Christmas story – when the angels appeared to the shepherd in the field – what
did they say? “I bring you good news of
great joy which will be for”…. For who?
For all the people who are Jewish?
For all the people who go to church every week and follow all the
rules? For all the people who are one
specific religion? Or maybe it’s like
Santa Claus, and the Joy is only for all the ‘good’ boys and girls? Nope… the angels simply said… I bring you
good news of great joy which will be for all the people. Yeah – ALL the people.
That means if you’re not Catholic, Even if you’re not Christian!!! This good
news is meant for you! That means if you
only make it to church once or twice a year, this good news is meant for you
What is the good news? Well – that’s
why I wanted to use THIS Gospel reading from John, because it explains the very
core of our beliefs… this is the very ESSENCE of the good news. If you and I fully understand this reading,
then we can claim for ourselves that Joy the angels proclaimed. So let’s walk thru this reading a bit –
In the beginning was the Word and the
word was with God and the Word was God.
Shoot – I could talk all day just about what that one line means. First, hopefully you caught-on that the ‘Word’
is Jesus – he is the Divine Logos: the active word; the reason; the command of
God sent into the world. So it says ‘He
was in the beginning’ – which means he was not created AFTER God. It says in the beginning he was WITH God –
which means he was also not created BEFORE God.
Right there, we learn that Jesus is ‘co-eternal’ with God the
Father…they bost existing ‘in the beginning’.
And then it says the Word WAS God.
In this one sentence, John teaches us that Jesus is God – the
God – the alpha and omega – and in no way inferior to God the Father. Right there – we see clearly two of the three
persons of the Holy Trinity. He’ll get
to the Holy Spirit later. At the same
time, this also tells us that there is only one God – and we might not catch
that, if it weren’t for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who added the smallest little
word into this reading and changed the whole meaning… they think it says ‘and
the word was with God and the Word was A god’… see what a difference one
little letter can make? That would imply
there are many gods and Jesus is just one of them. But - Because the ‘a’ is not there, it’s
clear to us that there is only ONE God.
See how deep this theology is?
And that’s just the first sentence!
We’ll move on…
Through him all things were made and
without him nothing was made that has been made.
Because Jesus is the active Word of God, it is through Him that the world
was created! We often think of Jesus as
the Redeemer… but He is also the Creator!
In fact, He is the source of Life itself….read on:
In him was life, and the life was the
light of men.
Jesus is the source of life –both in this world and the source of eternal
Are you seeing how deeply important this reading is?! I’m not gonna go line by line – just because
it would take too long. But one more
line…. Skip down to:
Yet to all who did
receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become
children of God—
There it is…the goal of our lives…. Because Jesus came, we have been
invited to become children of God. Specifically
– it says we have the ‘right’ or the ‘power’ to become children of God. That means there’s something else has to
happen…it’s not a done deal. It IS a
free gift – open to everyone – but you have to personally open that gift. Have you opened that gift yet?
Let’s say you gave your best friend a sweater for
Christmas. You do it right – you even
shear a sheep yourself – make the wool into yarn – then knit the sweater by
hand. It was perfect color and style for
your friend. You wrapped it and put a
pretty bow on it and took it over to his house on Christmas Eve. Your friend says – That’s a beautiful present
– I love that bow – I hate to mess it up.
I’ll stick this present under the tree to open later…and you go upstairs
to play x-box.
A year later, on Christmas eve, you go over to your friend’s house again – and
– you think- that present there looks familiar to me… your friend explains – that’s
the present you gave me last year! The
wrapping was so pretty, he couldn’t bring himself to unwrap it – so he put
it in the attic with the Christmas tree and he just takes it out each year to
look at it. Isn’t it beautiful?
Silly isn’t it? Who
would receive a gift and never open it? A
sweater left in the box is wasted. We
would never do anything that silly would we?
One of our missionaries to Haiti had gone down numerous times to install a
water filtration system at the school in town.
This was the first CLEAN water EVER to be available in the town. This was a huge deal, because people are
dying every day from water-borne illnesses.
He setup the program so that each student could take home two gallons of
clean water with them each day for their family to use. It was a brilliant plan and was bound to save
many, many lives.
However, on a subsequent visit, he went to visit a lady on the outskirts of
town. Her youngest child was very sick
and needed medication, so He was checking to see how he could help. Turns out, the child had dysentery… which comes from drinking bad water. He was in disbelief! How can this be? There’s perfectly clean water available just
down the road, and your child has the right to bring home two galloons every
day….why did your daughter drink bad water?
She explained that the other children often forgot to take their jugs with
them to school – or – stopped to play soccer on the way home and ended up
spilling it. After a while, they just
quit even trying to get the clean water.
His jaw dropped…. this life-saving gift which had been given to the village for
EVERYONE… it was their RIGHT! They were now entitled to clean water. But each person has to do something to claim
this right before it becomes their own PERSONALLY.
Just like a sweater left in the gift wrap – we could freeze to death because
we never bothered to open the present and make the sweater our own.
See where I’m going with this? Here’s
what it’s all about: this good news of
great joy really IS meant for EVERYONE.
No exceptions! Jesus is God’s
present to all of us. BUT…if we don’t let
Jesus out of this box… if we don’t let Jesus change us every day… then it is
the same as never opening the present.
If all we do is look at the pretty Bible once in a while, we’ve left our
true source of joy under the tree. We’ve
left Jesus – in the box.