Monday, 12 May 2014

JOHN 1: 15-18


It is already, and this far north the weekend brought more snow [!], two weeks since what follows was first written. However other than necessary spell checking have left it as written:

IT is the day after Mercy Sunday whereon two Pope: Francis and Emeritus Benedict, participated in the canonization of two other Popes: John xxii and John Paul ii.

Speaking of the two Saints Pope Francis noted: Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy. They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother. In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8).

Indeed St. John the Apostle, speaking of St. John the Baptist, uses similar language in the Gospel, language which should be spoken truthfully of all the baptized: …a witness to the Light…[cf. 1:7]

The Baptist also bore further witness of Jesus when, crying out: This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” [ cf. 1:30]

Ven. Bishop Fulton Sheen frequently notes, in particular in his major work THE LIFE OF CHRIST, how the Evangelists in the Holy Gospels “understate things.”

John’s “…He was before me.”, is one such understatement!

We know from the Lucan infancy narrative [cf. Lk. 1:57-63 & 2:4-7]John the Baptist and Jesus were about the same age, as cousins would have been known to each other since childhood, John in the chronological order having been born before Jesus clearly knew in mere human terms he was older than Jesus.

Yet here, long before Jesus will declare of Himself [cf. Jn.8:58] His precedence, the Baptist can neither contain His love for Jesus nor his true understanding of reality, that Jesus IS God.

[Jesus is the “I AM”. Satan is the: “I am not.]

Here too St. John the Apostle continues declaring who Jesus truly is v.16: And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

There is a sort of back and forth flow with St. John’s writing, namely He speaks about this event and includes the above truth about the result of Jesus’s death and resurrection, namely transformation into Jesus through baptism is receiving divine fullness – we become co-heirs with Jesus of all that He receives from the Father.

Of course what we do with such a gift, in a word how we use our freedom, this is the journey, the struggle, the pilgrimage of life.

v.17: For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth come through Jesus Christ.

All the rest of St. John’s account of the words and actions of Jesus throughout the remainder of this Gospel will underscore this fact and after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension will come the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who will pour grace and truth within us, living gifts for our journey, activating, as it were, all sacraments.

As St. John Paul has written:  In His intimate life, God “is love,” the essential love shared by the three divine Persons: personal love is the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Therefore He “searches even the depths of God,” as uncreated Love-gift. It can be said that in the Holy Spirit the intimate life of the Triune God becomes total gift, an exchange of mutual love between the Divine Persons and that through the Holy Spirit God exists in the mode of gift. It is the Holy Spirit who is the personal expression of this self-giving, of this being-love. He is Person-love. He is Person-gift……..As the Apostle Paul writes: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” [cf. St. John Paul’s encyclical on the Holy Spirit paras.10.1/10.2

V18: No one has seen God at any time.

It is true that Moses, for example {cf. Ex. 33-20} had intimate encounters with God, however God had to veil His face by various means, as with Elijah who covered his own face when he encountered God. [cf. 1 Kings 19:11]

Indeed in Exodus as referenced above because as God says: …no man can see My face and live…God tells Moses not only will he put Moses in the cleft of a rock, but for extra protection, for Moses, God will cover him with his hand.

Still even these encounters are such that Moses’ face will be so brilliant from the Sinai encounters, Moses will have to veil his own face!

Only ONE human being has ever seen God and lived, because being God Himself He has in His divine nature seen the Father and the Holy Spirit, but in His Incarnate human flesh Jesus is never shown to us as having an encounter with the Father face to face as it were – in this Jesus shares our own limitation – we know God who knows us, we yearn to see Him face to face, a yearning which finds its ultimate fulfillment in the beatific vision.

St. Paul says at the end of his great hymn on love: For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as also I am known. [cf. 1 Cor. 13:12]