2nd Sun after Christmas B – Divinely Human
‘In the beginning was the Word….’ When I was a boy I liked to go and hear Father Humilis play the organ at the twelve o’clock Mass on Christmas Day in the Franciscan Friary of my home town. People liked the old friar who had been wounded in World War One and hobbled around on a stick. They said he was a kind of saint. A few dour types didn’t think he was the complete friar because he was sometimes seen in the dining room of nearby White’s Hotel in the company of friends who had taken him to dinner. Back in those days, austerity and narrowness were deemed to be marks of bona fide holiness.
This Sunday’s Gospel is one of the great Christian statements of all time: It describes Christ as a pre-existent divine being – the Word – who has become human. ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.’ Those words were read in Latin long ago at that Christmas Mass, and they sailed straight over my head. Even today, Jesus as ‘Word of God’ sounds abstract. But Jesus is the expression ‘par excellence’ of God’s love for all creation – cf. John 3, 16. When we humans speak, something of who we are goes out from us. Christmas celebrates God speaking his Word – himself – into human flesh.
The gospels tell us one of the things that marked Jesus off from other religious teachers of his time was that he spoke with authority, while they didn’t. His words were grounded in the integrity of his life, and they came not from him but from something, or Someone higher, whom he was serving. When he spoke, as he still speaks in the Scriptures today, something of who is he is – God’s loving mercy – went/goes out of him. That ‘something’ is not unlike the mysterious power that went out of him when he healed the woman in the crowd – Luke 6, 19; Mark 5, 30. ‘His authenticity gave to his preaching and his whole personality a quality of transparency that led multitudes to ‘hear‘ his message…’ Donal Dorr, A CREED FOR TODAY, p 71.
When God’s loving mercy meets with the recognition and acceptance of our faith and trust, divine power is released – John 1, 12. We see this in the many people in the gospels whom Jesus healed. In some cases the power that went out from him not only healed people but enabled them to follow him – cf. Matt 20, 34. Jesus’ call to Peter, Andrew, James, John and others to follow him was overpowering.
The Son of God became man so that we might become God’ – St. Athanasius (4th century). We discover God through our humanity. Bread, wine, oil, water, words of the sacraments all speak to our bodily senses, our flesh. ‘It is by being fully and perfectly human that Jesus is the perfect image of God. This has a profound implication for our spirituality. It means that, for us his followers, the way to come closer to God is by becoming more authentically human’ – Donal Dorr, A CREED FOR TODAY, p 74. The parables of Jesus reveal what it means to be authentically and divinely human.
Fr. QQ – 12/30/2020