December 27, 2016
Feast of Saint John
Why We Rejoice
The Responsorial Psalm gives us the key, not only to the readings, but to Christian life: “Rejoice in the Lord, you just” (Psalm 97).
1John 1: 1-4 explains why we rejoice: “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” In Jesus, the Word of life, “life was made visible… the eternal life that was with the Father was made visible to us.” And John, called the “Evangelist” (the “Good-News-er”), proclaims it to all who will listen “so that you too may have fellowship with us.”
This is what Christianity is all about: koinonia: “fellowship,” “community,” “communion in the Holy Spirit” with God and with one another in the intimate union of one shared life, one shared light, one shared love.
This life was made visible in Jesus Christ. John testifies that it is “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands.” God’s divine life was made visible in Jesus. And it is made visible in us.
John writes about it, and calls us to make this life visible to one another, “so that our joy may be complete.”
In John 20: 1-8 John takes us to the theological root of our belief that God’s life is present and visible in every Christian. Beginning with Mary Magdalen’s complaint after finding Jesus’ tomb empty: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him,” he tells how he and Peter ran to the tomb to see. There they saw “the burial cloths,” but not the body of Jesus. And John says of himself, “He saw and believed.”
What did he believe? He believed Jesus was risen from the dead. Where did he believe he would find him? In his risen body. Where do we find his risen body today? In all the members of the Church who are Christ’s body on earth.
Jesus explained before his death that he had to die in order to rise multiplied in all the baptized: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The “eternal life that was with the Father was made visible to us” in Jesus. And it is made visible to the world in us, who are his risen body on earth. Jesus is “Emmanuel: God-with-us” in his Church. We find him in the “fellowship,” the “communion of the Holy Spirit” that we experience with one another.
“Rejoice in the Lord, you just,” because Jesus is risen and dwelling visibly among us still.
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