Merry Christmas!! What joy it is to know that the Savior of the world has come and will come again that we may be with him in Heaven for all eternity! And yet, as many of us have realized throughout the Advent season, there are things that we still need to do to remain ready for the second coming.
The beginning of John’s gospel contains these two verses: “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), and “And the word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). These two verses point to a reality that so many of us either have taken for granted much of our lives or have just not realized: Jesus is the Word. God is truly present in the Word and, in fact, God IS the Word.
I was at Mass with my wife and five young children a few weeks ago and when it came time for the Gospel Acclamation, our youngest, who was in my arms at the time and had previously been squirming around me like one of those little chinchillas, turned and watched as the Deacon began making his way to the altar and slowly processing to the ambo with the book of the Gospels held high. During this whole time, my son was mesmerized. He began pointing at the book and reaching for it. What could have made him change so quickly from a South American rodent into a focused young boy in such a short time?
There are, of course, so many factors that could have drawn my son’s attention at that moment. The fact that we had all stood up at that moment, or the fact that the Deacon had moved from his place by the priest, or the fact that two young men were carrying candles, or perhaps it was the first time he noticed the big shiny book on top of the altar, or maybe it was that he noticed the book but, since it was in someone’s hands he knew this was his chance to get it. All of those could easily explain his sudden change in behavior, but those are not what made me reflect that day. To me, there was something special about that book that my son noticed, there was something that was drawing my son to that book at that moment and I knew that I should be drawn to it as well.
In Psalm 63 we read, “O God, you are my God—it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water.” In that moment, my son’s body was pining to be near to God. Perhaps it was the shiny book cover or the candles, or whatever other explanation, but he was reaching for God in that moment and he was reaching in the right place. Jesus gives himself to us in two ways at every Mass. He gives himself to us in his Word and he feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist. So often times we nod off, or don’t pay attention to the first half of the Mass because it is just a bunch of words. “Perhaps they are special words because they are in the Bible,” we say to ourselves, but do we realize that not only are they special words, but they are truly a gift of God, from God?!
As we enter into this new calendar year and celebrate the coming of Jesus as savior of the world at Christmas, let’s make a resolution to be attentive to the Gift of God in the word each and every time we go to Mass and to spend time daily seeking that gift as well. It is in doing so that He will begin to truly reveal to us the person he has created to be.
If you would like to make a commitment during 2016 to read the Bible everyday, here is a good place to start for advice and a plan to read just 10 minutes a day and make your way through the entire Bible !