December 31, 2008

In the Beginning

As we get ready to celebrate the octave day of Christmas tonight and tomorrow, the Gospel for Christmas Day rolls around again. I've been thinking about the beginning of John's gospel a lot lately, having been set off by Brother Chris's beautiful reflection. It's as John's prologue contains all the depth and beauty of the Christmas mystery.

The "In the beginning" of John 1:1 is logically prior to the "In the beginning" of Genesis 1:1. Before God began to create the heavens and the earth, the Word was with God. The Son is "eternally begotten" of the Father, as we pray in the Creed. And yet these two accounts of what was "in the beginning" are very much related.

Before they went on their Christmas break, the grade school children came for Mass one morning. I quizzed them on their knowledge of how God created the heavens and earth. Surely they had heard the story of the first chapter of the Bible. How did God create the world? "In six days," said one, correctly, but not answering my question. They were stumped. The technique God used to create the heavens and the earth was so obvious in the text that they couldn't see it.

The answer, I said, was that God created the universe with his speech. This is what the Scripture says, after all. God said...and so it happened. The miracle of Christmas is that the same created power from which everything has come--the Word of God--becomes for us this little child that Mary could hold in her hands. And so it is with us, in the sublime humility of God we hold the Word through whom God created the universe when we receive him in Holy Communion.

In the mystery of the Incarnation, the creative power of God has come to dwell in our humanity, giving us the option of being ourselves renovated and created anew. The Word of God became flesh so that we might be recreated and reborn in God.

No comments: