Sunday reflection with Fr. Robin Gibbons – January 2, 2022


Second Sunday of Christmas

“No one has ever seen God;

it is the Only Begotten who is closest to the heart of the Father,

who made it known ”. (Jn 1:18)

These words of John at the end of our Gospel this Sunday, catch me off guard, not because I do not believe them, but because I know them in my heart, and yet I need time and time. space to think about how I came to understand this truth through the ‘only son’. You see, I’m not an evangelical who focuses a lot on the direct and emotional encounter with Jesus as Lord and Savior, so my search for Christ, as many suspects, is through hints and guesses, by trusting in the encounter that we have in the Word and the Sacraments and seeking to know the Lord in what I am now realizing has been my constant struggle to live the Beatitudes and the great Commandment.

We have been given many different ways of knowing Christ, all of them are rooted in the Gospel, we hear them proclaimed to us in the scriptures, as Catholic Christians we instinctively make many of these encounters our own. They are part of our faith DNA, they belong to us as part of our travel kit on the only royal road which is narrow but leads to eternal life. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus understands that human beings are rightly diverse in personality and gifts, but that this variety is a gift of bonding, for in baptism it becomes familial. As we are part of “His” family, we also belong to this Pauline metaphor of the Body as different parts but always one in Christ, our head, our cornerstone, our way, the truth and the life (Eph1: 5, 6. Col 2,19.I Cor 6,12,13,14) Each of us will discover our particular ways of meeting Jesus, but there is a particular way that I understand Christ among us that I wish to share, the poet and the artist in me comes back to it over and over again, but anyone who knows love will understand exactly what it is.

Let me show you. In this Christmas season, the different feasts bring us continuously to the theme of Christ as the light who has come into our world and our lives, John gives it to us in these enchantingly beautiful cadences:

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not conquered him.

The real light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

The Word was made flesh and made his home among us.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son, come from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1: 4-5,9,14) Now we are all well aware that the imagery of the One God cannot present us with anything other than guesses, because no one can see God yet! Christ is the way towards this realization of meeting, because in the Christian tradition we recognize the persons of the Triune God and find our way to know this Being through Christ, but also the charism of the Holy Spirit. Light, shine, something greater than our perception helps us. Here in the feasts of the Nativity we find echoes of this light as a star, shine, luminosity, another way of seeing beyond human sight. Byzantine tradition sings this Kondakion at the Great Matins of Theophany: “You have revealed yourself to the world today;

and your light, O Lord, has set its seal on us.
We recognize you and cry out to you:
You have come and you have revealed yourself, O Unapproachable Light. In a way, this deeply poetic but theological hymn brings us together in Christ, the following Oikos tells us more by showing us what it means for human life:

‘As the prophet predicted,
a great light, Christ, shone on the Galilee of the Gentiles,
over the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali.
A people living in darkness saw a great light shine from Bethlehem.
The Sun of Justice, the Lord born of Mary, casts its rays on all who have lived on the earth.
Come therefore, 0 naked children of Adam, and let us put on him to warm us.
For the Light that no one can approach, That which is a protection and a cloak for the naked,
the Light to those who are in darkness has appeared and has been revealed today. ‘ (Oikos of the Great Matins of the Theophany)

This is the real sense of wonder that we find in this gospel of John, reaching out to us as we begin a new year, but it is also there in a more concise form, looking us straight into the second reading of it. ‘Ephesians. The true Light has come to us who are the elect of God:

‘Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ,

to be holy and spotless, and to live for love in his presence,

determining that we are to become his adopted sons and daughters, through Jesus Christ

for its own purposes ”. (Eph 1: 4-5)

Keep this text as a symbol of your New Year’s resolution to live out your faith in the light and truth as children of the Most High. Amen

I wish you all a very happy new year.

Lectio

From the Lucenarium sung at Vespers in the Ambrosian rite

that the lamps are on.

V. For you light my lamp, oh Lord

R. My God, light up my darkness

V. For in you I will be delivered from temptation

R. My God, light up my darkness

V. For you light my lamp, oh Lord

R. My God, light up my darkness

Pick up from Epiphany Vigil (Ambrosian Rite)

O God, who on that day revealed your only begotten Son to the Gentiles by the guidance of a star, grant with mercy that we who already know you by faith, may be led to behold the beauty of your glory. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, * who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever.

Extract from a Homily of Paul VI

Christmas midnight mass

December 24, 1967

… Here, it is no longer us who seek to ascend towards God, it is God who descends towards us, to make us ascend towards him, to free us and save us. It is God who takes the initiative, God who breaks the fabric of human history. This is the “good news” – (this is the meaning of the Greek word euangelos) – which is announced today to all the earth.

The Gospel is “the new” par excellence, one might say, the only real novelty that has ever been verified in the long and laborious spiritual history of mankind. To the weariness, to the aging of the pagan world, Christ brings something entirely new: liberation and salvation from on high. He frees us from ourselves, our basic misery, our bad inclinations, his sins and our vices, and makes us a new person, associated with his divine life.

Saint Paul, incomparable cantor of this liberation of humanity by Christ, will cry out in a transport of gratitude and love: “he loved me and he gave himself up for me!” (Gal. 2, 20). This is because everyone is now personally concerned. It is not to a generic and abstract humanity that salvation is offered, it is to each person in particular; it is my needs, my desires, my deepest aspirations that Christ comes to fulfill. And the new energies that it places at the heart of humanity will exert their beneficial influence on the whole of society. Our modern world tormented by so many distressing problems, this world where we work, where we suffer, where we aspire to peace: let us turn to the Child of the crèche, let us welcome his message! It is for us the way of salvation, happiness and true peace. It is a new hope which dawns on the world, it is the announcement of an endless plenitude and joy!

Keywords: Sunday Reflection, Father Robin Gibbons

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