Daily Reflection
December 27th, 2002
Deb Fortina
Academic Affairs
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Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist 
1 John 1:1-4
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
John 20:2-8

1 John 1:1-4 “…what we have seen with our eyes…concerns the Word of life-for the life was made visible….”

Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12  “…The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory...”

John 20: 1a and 2-8 “…Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.”

The Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, was also called the “Beloved Disciple” by our Lord.  John was born in Galilee, in 6 A.D.  It appears he joined Christ’s ministry when he was 25; he died in 104.  His brother was James the Great also one of Christ’s apostles, they were sons of Zebedee and Salome.  For a more thorough discussion and reference to scripture, see the American Catholic site: http://users.erols.com/saintpat/ss/1227.htm

Even though we have just celebrated our Lord’s birth, with today’s feast day of  St. John, we jump ahead in Christ’s life and listen to St. John’s account of encountering the living Christ.  I found a common theme of “seeing” in today’s readings, as in being a witness to our Lord’s time here on earth.  In 1 John we hear about the disciples being witnesses to our Lord.  John passionately describes that the “something” that has existed from the beginning, “the Word of life,”  was touched by their own hands; and was seen by their own eyes.   They are witnesses to Christ’s ministry on earth, and the purpose of their writing and traveling to the various communities is to spread the message of hope and light out into the world.  Their visits were supportive as well, and sometimes they had to correct a part of the story that was leaning away from the original message, which is what the forward reading in The Catholic Study Bible suggests, preceding 1 John.  In our reading in John, we are listening to John’s witness about seeing Christ’s tomb empty, except for the scattered burial clothes.  Having seen, they believed Mary Magdala’s earlier account that Christ was no longer in the tomb.  Eventually they would understand why.  Yes often we trust something is real, when we are able to witness the event in person.  And of all of our senses, most of us rely on our sense of sight to inform us the most.  So, listening to the message today of the Apostles’ eye witness accounts should make us stronger believers because they saw all of this happen.  Right?

In reflecting on the theme of seeing is believing, I had to admit I wondered how the eye witness sense got to be so highly acclaimed.  I myself could recall many recent instances, where sight wasn’t that reliable.  Last week I was at a luncheon where they had a magician scheduled for entertainment.  We saw many things happen that made no sense, his slight of hand worked beautifully, and our eyes had deceived us.  So sometimes our witness is cloudy due to deliberate deception.   I also recall another incident, where I witnessed a discussion of a problem between two parties, who could not trust each other.   It seemed the only way a person could see the truth was if you were not a directly involved party dealing with the problem.  Neither side trusted the other enough to believe what the other person was saying, even though I believed both sides were presenting a trustworthy solution.  So, sometimes our emotions cloud our experience of the truth.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched a basketball game and totally disagreed with the referee's calls, and yet we both saw the same thing; probably another instance of emotions clouding judgment, not to mention that my eyes are always on the ball, and not on the other players. 

And of course I have to recall my Dad’s consistent remarks to me, saying that God sure makes it hard to understand Him, why can’t he just communicate things to us the way the rest of us communicate in our everyday lives, you know in person he means?  So, that he’d have a personal eye witness encounter with someone who is important to him, but a total enigma for all these years.   And what about all the other people living during the time of Christ who saw Him, but did not believe Him to be, who He said He was?  Fr. Val Peter talks to us about seeing with the eyes of Faith.  I have to think that we humans have to be able to rely on another means of witness besides our eyes, because our eyes or any of the other senses are not always that reliable.  For all we know, we have seen Jesus, but we didn’t know it, and so we missed the experience.  So what we have to pray for is to be able to develop a keen sense of seeing with eyes of Faith.

Finally, the Lord’s beloved Saint John was heard throughout his life to say “My dear children love one another.”  May we be inspired by this great saint’s witness to love, because he saw LOVE and had developed eyes of Faith to trust what he saw; our world needs his message today more than ever.

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