Context and Advent

prologue-johnThe prologue and beginning of the Gospel according to John appears on the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B) as well as the gospel for the Mass on Christmas during the day (all years) and in some small part on the 3rd Sunday of Christmas (all years). In all the uses John the Evangelist is orienting the reader of the gospel with a fusion of traditional materials: a hymn about the pre-existing Word of God, John the Baptist, as well as many OT images. The goal of the fusion is most powerfully seen in the closing verses of the Prologue (vv.14-18) in which the language about God and Word (v.1) become the language about Father and Son (v.17). The story of the Word becomes identical with the story of Jesus. The Word becoming flesh (v.14) is the defining event of human history in which the relationship of God and humanity is forever changed in the Incarnation. The Incarnation means that people can see, hear, and know God in ways never before possible. Such is the effect of the divine light in the world. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race (vv.3-4)

David Lose has a wonderful reflection that I thought good to include here:

“There is, John says, a point to the universe. That is a debatable conclusion these days. Theories about the beginning of the cosmos, evidence of an expanding universe, the discovery of dark matter, and so on – all of this and more raise questions about whether there is anything or anyone behind the creation of the world and the point – or lack thereof – of our existence.

“The typical – or at least culturally dominant – Christian response has been to argue backwards from the complexity of our present world to the existence of an intelligent designer. This assumes, of course, that chaos cannot ever result in something complex and useful. And it often leads to an embrace of a pre- if not un-scientific view of the world that is difficult for most of us to accept.

“So is that our only choice – random meaninglessness or uncritical biblicism? I don’t think so, as John offers another model.

“John doesn’t seek to prove the existence of a creator, you see, he confesses it. In fact, he sings it. When you read these first eighteen verses of John’s Gospel, what we often call the Prologue, you realize quite quickly that it is as much poetry as narrative, filled not with equations but metaphors, and therefore is far closer to a song than a scientific essay. John makes a confession, not seeking to prove but persuade the way all art persuades, through beauty.

“And so John confesses that at the heart of all we do and are, and at the core of all that is, lives God’s Word, not merely existing but giving life, and not life in general but life with meaning and purpose. Life, that is, that gives light.

“Skeptics on both the most liberal and most conservative ends of the spectrum may scoff at confession, seeking instead some kind of proof, whether scientific or scriptural. But John simply confesses with poetry, metaphor, and song that at the very core of the universe is the heart beat of God, the Word that gives life, and the Word that thereby also enlightens our life.

“Faith, like love, can be understood only from the inside. And so the question isn’t simply whether you assent to this confession, but rather, when you sing John’s song, do you feel the light of the world pulsing through your voice?”

This is Advent – an invitation to enter into the inside, to be lifted up in love, and to let the song of your life in Christ be your testimony.

Note: there will be two other posts today, so please check back later

Artwork: “Prologue of John” 2001by J. Vonaesch

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