1Jn 1:1-4; Ps 97:1-2,5-6,11-12; Jn 20:1a and 2-8
“All peoples see his glory!”
Without the witness of Saint John no one would see his glory. Indeed the Synoptic Gospels give witness to the King of Glory, Christ the LORD, but they do not have the unique perspective of Saint John, the Evangelist. Indeed, the gospels for the Vigil and three Christmas Masses make this comparison vividly. Saint Mark has no account of the Infancy of the Lord Jesus; Saint Luke and Saint Matthew offer the story of the Nativity packed with all the awe and wonder of those who came to see what the Angels announced and the Magi found. However, it is only in the Gospel of Saint John where we hear the profound depths of the mystery of the Word Made Flesh as the Word Who Was God. The blazing Light of the Incarnation is unhesitantly expressed in the Prologue of Saint John proclaimed in the Mass During Christmas Day. This Mystery found at the very beginning of the Fourth Gospel is also heard on the lips of Saint Thomas who professed the faith of the great church when he said to the Risen Christ, “My Lord and My God!” Such glory is seen only by faith. Such is the glory that causes the earth to rejoice and the many islands to be glad. The Eternal Son, the Eternal Word, surround by unapproachable light surrounded by clouds and darkness came down from his throne to bring us justice and judgment. All the mountains of prejudice and years of resistance cannot stand before his coming. Even the heavenly lights dim in the splendor of his coming. Light from Light, True God from True God, he dawns for the just and gladdens the hearts of the upright. This Saint John saw with his own eyes and touched with his own hands and gave testimony to in his own Gospel. This is the faith that was born and grew out of the empty tomb. This is the faith that brings us with Saint John in this Eucharist before the throne of God and of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Every word Saint John preached and wrote in his Gospel, Letters, and Revelation was written for one purpose only, “that our joy may be complete.” We too are incomplete in our celebration of the mystery of the Incarnation, and the Death and Resurrection of Christ if we do not give witness to the Truth that has set us free. From the very beginning of our life of faith in Baptism we have seen, his face in the joy of our pastors; we have heard, his words of absolution and healing; we have tasted, his body and blood; we have caught the aroma of his praise, in the sacrifice of our incense; we have touched, his beloved bride in the sign of peace. Indeed, all of our portals of sense and the gates of our consciousness have been open and receptive to the Coming of the Lord. The hidden life of God from all eternity has been made visible and we have been summoned to find our own true life hidden with Christ in God. We have such fellowship with our brothers and sisters in faith and with the Living God because of the joy of Saint John. Indeed the Apostolic Witness and the witness of generations of saints bring us into the true joy of salvation. Indeed we share with them in the very life of the Trinity. No longer do we live for ourselves but for him. Indeed, it is no longer we who live; it is Christ who lives in us for the glory of the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is this radically new life in Christ that brings grace and glory into our broken and cynical world. The light of Christ has shown in the darkness and the darkness grasped it not. Even during the Octave of the Birth of Christ, we hear Saint John witness to the new birth he had in the empty tomb that First Easter Morning. Saint Mary Magdalene came to him and Saint Peter to express her utter amazement and fear. The good news of the empty tomb was not yet good news. Saint Mary only knew that someone had taken the Lord from the tomb; she had not yet heard the Risen One call her by name. This startling and frightening news brought Saint Peter and Saint John to their feet and off they were running to the tomb. The other disciple, Saint John, waited for his beloved leader to arrive at the tomb. While he was waiting he bent down to discover the burial cloths there, but he did not enter. After Saint Peter entered into the tomb, and he saw the burial cloths and the cloth that had covered his head not with the rest of the cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Perhaps, this detail was a sign (well known in that day to a servant) that one who had eaten at the table had departed but would return. Saint Peter saw, but Saint John saw and believed. His eyes of faith were opened and he saw the mystery hidden from ages past and now revealed before his very eyes. This is the testimony of the Beloved Disciple, and now his joy is complete. It is our joy that remains incomplete. Perhaps this celebration of the mysteries of the Lord’s Incarnation and Birth will bring us to a new identity. Perhaps we will feel the urgency of the Evangelist to share the Good News, and then our joy will be complete.