Daily Reflection
January 7th, 2006

Kristina DeNeve

Cardoner at Creighton
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Saturday of the Christmas Season - in U.S.
1 John 5:14-21
Psalm 149:1-2, 3-4, 5 and 6a and 9b
John 2:1-11

As we continue to celebrate the Christmas season, our readings all week have focused on the first letter from John and the beginning of the Gospel of John. Scholars believe the letter from John was written by the same school of Christians who gave us the fourth gospel, with John’s letter perhaps being written as a short treatise of the gospel.

I love this gospel story of Jesus’ first miracle. I remember a movie I saw about 5 years ago that depicted Jesus’ life and ministry and included the Wedding at Cana. I envisioned the story much like it was depicted. I can totally imagine Jesus eating rich foods, drinking with friends and family, laughing, telling jokes, listening to stories and dancing with the other guests. Jesus’ humanity is so obvious for me in this story. How fitting that it is here that his disciples first glimpse Jesus’ divinity as well. The Bible is replete with images of water mixing with wine. In the same way, Jesus’ humanity (as one whose mother insists he listen to her) mixes with Jesus’ divinity (as one who not only complies by turning water into wine, but turning that water into the finest wine served at the party)!

The reading from the letter of John is more directed toward us as disciples of Christ. If we find someone who sins, someone who is not living life fully in God, our duty is to pray for that person and let God lead him/her to life. That part is easy enough – I often tell people that I will pray for them and praying for people I see struggling is a common enough occurrence for me. But, that is all John says. That nothing more is said is the true challenge for me. Being a “good Christian,” I am tempted to offer advice to people when I see them doing wrong. Afterall, as a “good Christian,” my advice would no doubt also be good! But, John suggests that I not give advice. My job is to pray and let God do the rest. How tough for me to be patient and let God be God. To make matters worse for me, it appears that I am not even allowed to judge the other person! Even if I manage to not give advice to others whom I think badly need it, seeing someone who is clearly doing something harmful to themselves and others (for sin separates us from self, others, and God) is usually a signal to me of how to be a better person myself. Whether I like to admit it or not, seeing someone “sin” is usually a way for me to feel better about myself because I “am not like them.” I like John’s suggestion that I simply pray for others and let God give him/her life. But, what a challenge for me to simply do this and to not give advice or become more certain of my own goodness!

While it is certainly fitting that these readings from the Johannine school have been coupled together this week, my burning question is “why now?” Why am I being asked to reflect on John’s gospel and letter during the Christmas season? I think part of the reason for this gospel is because it is a great text for pondering Jesus as fully human and fully divine. Jesus performing his first miracle at a family wedding gives me so much rich material for contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation. And, the first letter of John helps me to continue to explore another meaning of Christmas, how Christ comes into our lives in the here and now transforming our tendencies to judge and give advice to others.

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