Daily Reflection
December 27th, 2000
John O'Keefe
Theology Department
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St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
First John 1:1-4
Psalms 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
John 20:2-8

While certainly not intending to do so, the psalmist hints at something central to this Christmas season with the words “clouds and darkness are round about him.”  In the scriptures, divine theophanies often occur in the mountains, as if to stress God’s transcendence and otherness.  The image reminds me of my beloved Colorado where one commonly sees the majesty of a mountain peak shrouded in cloud and cloaked in darkness.  These veils, so to speak, emphasize the mountain’s remoteness and, in a way, increase its glory.

John is aware of the hidden and majestic quality of God.  What he proclaims as new is that this majesty has become “visible” in Jesus.  To continue the metaphor of the psalmist, the shrouds have been lifted and the glory of God has been laid bare.  The great paradox of the feast of Christmas is that this uncontainable mystery of God has been contained in the person of Jesus, whose birth we continue to celebrate today.  He is the one who the evangelist has “heard,” “seen,” looked upon,” and “touched.”  As Paul says somewhere, “this is a great mystery.”  Yet, this claim that the transcendent has become visible and, in some way, limited by creation itself, is at the very heart of the Christian faith.

But yet, these readings are not just about the incarnation.  In the Gospel reading we hear a resurrection story.  Why?  This is not the Easter season.  Perhaps it is because the Church wishes to remind us that if we are to appreciate the drama of Christmas, we must have first embraced the glory of Easter.  Because John “saw and believed” he understands both who Jesus is and the fellowship with the Father that he has made possible for us.  In a way, then, these readings remind us not only that the holy mountain is glorious, but also that it is near and approachable.  How appropriate, then, the refrain, “let the good rejoice in the Lord.”

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