Christmas 2, 3rd Jan 2021
It is not every year the we get two Sundays after Christmas and before the Feast of the Epiphany for it all depends on which day of the week Christmas Day falls. When there is a second Sunday after Christmas, whether year A, B, or C, the scripture readings are always the same and even the responsorial psalm – and all are of special significance. The introduction to the Day in the Roman Missal has this to say:
“Christ, the Wisdom of God
“We celebrate Christ, the incarnate wisdom of God who has come to dwell in our midst, the true light that overcomes the darkness and enlightens all peoples.”
The first passage from the apocryphal Book of Ecclesiasticus, part of the Wisdom Literature written by one Jesus Ben Sirach points to the importance of Wisdom and, foretells of Jesus as the Wisdom of God and the whole book points to wisdom as the “`fear` of the Lord` meaning awe and reverence for God and a gift that should be sought. It describes too how Wisdom takes possession of God`s chosen people Israel.
St. Paul in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus in chapter 1 and the passage we have just heard read, begins the passage with a great ascription of praise to God the Father for having blessed those who follow Jesus with all the spiritual blessings of heaven and how he has adopted us as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved – in Jesus His Word become flesh!
The Gospel reading is, of course, the same as that which is read as the Gospel of the Day on Christmas morning, John chapter 1 verses 1 – 16 but, today, with the additional couple of verses telling how John the Baptist had appeared at the forerunner of Jesus the Son of God, proclaiming: `This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me ranks before me because he existed before me,` then going on to explain, `…it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father`s heart, who has made him known.`
So then, what do we mean by stating that Jesus is `The Word (of God) Became Flesh` ? It means, simply put, that Jesus took our human nature fully upon Himself in the womb of His Mother the Virgin Mary, at the will of His Heavenly Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit. So fully did He take our human nature upon himself that He was tempted as we are and yet without sin! He did NOT give in to temptation.
Regarded by some as blasphemous and by others in bad taste, but yet having a good teaching point about the humanity of Jesus, there is a painting entitled “Christ in the House of His Parents” by the pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais showing Jesus as a young lad helping in the Carpenter`s shop but having had an accident and cut his hand and being comforted by His Mother with Joseph and others looking on. Of course, there is no scriptural authority for such a painting and it is, clearly, something from Millais` imagination. It is in a rather sentimental style, as are many of pre-Raphaelite paintings and the wound to the hand is a foretelling of the wounds of the crucificion! However, the Holy Child, as truly a human being would have been subject to the knocks and minor injuries that children and, indeed, adults have been subject to. Yes, the Word truly became flesh.
If we read St. John`s Gospel with care we get many images of how the Incarnate Word of God shared much the same emotions as ourselves. His love for His friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus is very plain and his love for the apostle John and especially His Mother Mary and also the rich young man who wanted to follow Him but was weighed down with his riches. Equally He could share distress as witness His weeping over the death of Lazarus and over the City of Jerusalem which He came to save and yet He knew would reject Him. He enjoyed company and social occasions and, clearly, He was criticised to eating and drinking with those that were despised by the Scribes and Pharisees and was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. He saved people from embarrassment as at the Wedding in Cana of Galilee, had immense empathy and care for people who suffered as witness his many healing miracles, His feeding of the crowds who sought Him out. Just like us He needed people whom He could take into His confidence, for instance Peter and John and James who were with Him at His raising of Jairus`s daughter, at Mt. Tabor at His Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was betrayed.
Jesus sometimes needed, like us, to be alone and to withdraw to lonely places or mountains to get away from the crowds and even those closest to Him. There were times that He felt totally exhausted as when He fell asleep in the back of the boat on Lake Galilee even in the stern of the boat at the height of a storm. He felt intense fear just before His Passion and openly shared His feeling with some of His followers. In His agony in the Garden he prayed “Father, let this cup pass from me.”
He dwelt among us, passionately and with fullness - no quiet life was His for he shared the full range of human experiences and was compassionate even to the point of becoming, under the law, ritually unclean, as when he touched lepers and the woman with an issue of blood to heal them. To show the fulness of His humanity he spent most of His time among those who needed Him most and they were welcome in His company!
Jesus, the Word made flesh, became so to reveal the Eternal Father to us! The way that we know the Father is through Jesus who is, “the way, the truth and the life.” It is through Him alone that we can know the Father, the Invisible God, and so we must link up with Jesus, thinking of Him often, praying through Him, receiving Him in the Sacraments, pondering His teaching and so identifying with Him as children of God. “To those who accepted Him, He gave power to become children of God” It is this way, and through the waters of Baptism that be are born again. Remember the story of Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night. Amen.