TOUCH THE WORD: A HOMILY ON THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN, APOSTLE
St. John is known as the beloved and it is needles to say that he is a very special saint to me. The first chapter of John’s gospel is a special one to me and my theology thesis was based on that. There we have the beautiful word ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us’. These words are so important that whenever we pray the creed at mass, we are expected to bow a the time when we say that ‘he became man’. On some special solemnities, we are to kneel briefly at this point. Also, when we pray the angelus prayer at 6 and at 12, we either bow or genuflect at the point when we say ‘The word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us’.
Thanks to John the Beloved who gave us this line. If you are The Lover’s Beloved, this line will also mean much to you. As a child, I wanted to love God but I found it difficult to love a God I cannot see. How can I have a relationship with someone when I am the only one doing the talking and I never hear Him talking back to me /Beauty attracts us to people. How can I be attracted to someone I cannot see? In my journey, the message of our readings of today came to me. John tells us in the first reading, that the God who exists for all eternity, we are now able to see with our eyes and touch with our hands. The Word (invisible) has been made visible. Now we can rejoice like the responsorial psalm tells us because we can now love Him tangible.
It is also not easy to love someone who is not the same being as you are. For example, you may love your dog, but how much do both of you understand each other? The dog may understand you, but maybe 10% of what you say. That may be too generous of me. Maybe they will understand words like come, sit, jump, fetch, wash, etc, but not the fulness of human language. In fact, the dogs understand us better than we understand them. God is a far distant being to us. He is divine and we are human. The gap is like that between the sky and the ground and even that is very close compared to what we are talking about.
In Jesus, God becomes a fellow human to us. He speaks human language and even died like every human being. But by becoming human He invites us to share in His divinity and for that reason He rose from the dead as we read in the gospel of today. This becomes a sign of what will happen to us at the end of our own lives too. The gospel tells us how Peter and John went to the tomb after the resurrection. John ran faster but when he got to the tomb he waited for Peter. When Peter came, both of them went in and the Gospel ended by saying that John saw and believed. He did not see Jesus at that time, but he saw that Jesus had risen from the dead. He lives forever and so shall we.
At Christmas we celebrate a God who has made it possible for us to see Him, touch Him and relate to Him as a fellow human being. The Word is now tangible and so we can confidently have a Lover-Beloved relationship with Him. I dare not call myself the Lover, because He loved me first. My love for Him is only a response to the love received. May St. John the Beloved intercede for us, that we may also lean upon His loving heart.