Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James, Belvidere, IL
Homily for 7th Day Octave of Christmas, Thursday, 12-31-20, Year B
Optional Memorial of St. Sylvester I, Pope.
St. Sylvester I, Pope
Birth data is unknown
Installed as Pope (Bishop of Rome) 314 AD
His Papacy was during the reign of Constantine the Great
He also fought the heresies of the time from Arius (Arianism) and the Donatist Schism
He participated in the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
He organized public worship and dedicated the Lateran basilica.
He died in 335 A.D.
He was one of the first non-martyrs venerated as a saint.
READINGS: 1st Reading 1st Jn, 2:18-21; Gospel Jn 1:1-18
Theme: Know the Truth In The Word
I do not think there is any other place in the inspired writings of the bible that poetically defines Christ as well as John does in his prologue to his Gospel. These opening verses are actually a hymn that was probably sung at one time. John incorporates it as the opening to his Gospel to reveal in a way the ending to his Gospel at the beginning. John wants us to know exactly who he is writing about and the significance of the person to whom his Gospel reveals and the truth that he is.
The Word (logos) was already with God in the beginning. In fact, He was God. And as God is the creator of all things, all things had to come through Him, i.e., the Word! Nothing could be or exist without coming through Christ (Word) first.
John continues to reveal Christ as the Word describing Him as a light that overpowers darkness. He goes on to explain that a witness, someone who can give testimony to the coming of the Word among us, is part of the plan so that we can understand in our own human terms what this Word will mean for us.
But John notes that we sinful humans have a difficult time understanding or even accepting God’s Word and plan because of our fallen nature. By saying, “but the world did not know him” does not just mean the Hebrews or Jewish people but the entire world since we can only perceive things we can understand from our Human existence. To grasp the supernatural order God has developed for us is just beyond our understanding and thus we tend to ignore it and continue living in our drudgery.
John then says that Christ as the Word finally did come to his Jewish brethren, but they also did not accept Him. But, for those who do accept Christ, they are born of God, not an earthly physical birth but one of spirit through adoption.
Finally, John brings his prologue to its crescendo in the statement, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his Glory.” To understand the magnitude of this statement and what God did for us, we can look to St. Paul in Philippians 2:6-8:
“Though he was in the form of God,
Jesus did not deem equality with God
Something to be grasped at.
Rather, he emptied himself
and took the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men.
He was known to be of human estate,
And it was thus that he humbled himself,
obediently accepting even death,
death on a cross!”
At the rightly prescribed time, a time according to God’s Will, He came among us to finally reveal, within our own human understanding, His love for us. God’s goal for us is to love Him and exist with Him in heaven. His love for us is so great He came down from heaven and took on our lowly state to be with us and show us, on our level, what true happiness really is through His teaching and ministry among us.
Unfortunately, our humanity has a way of shooting ourselves in the foot with disbelief, misunderstanding and false teaching. St. John’s letter in the first reading alludes to this confusion and false teaching and that we must avoid it. He gives us the key to avoid falling into the traps of the antichrist and thus losing our adoption into God’s family. All we must do is look to the truth of which Christ is. A truth that “pre-eminently characterizes the divine order, thus, distinguished from the deception and illusion of the order of sinful man.”1
We know what Christ has taught us and the truth that it is. When we stack teachings of false prophets and antichrists against Christ’s teaching, they become glaringly obvious as alien and different. Be a student of Christ, know His teachings and thus we will know the way to the truth as was revealed to us in the Word made flesh.
“From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”