Reflection for Sunday, January 4, 2004: Second Sunday after Christmas.
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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
So as to be more available to the graces of the liturgy's readings, imagine a multicolored tent of simple construction. On the various panels, we see representations of the nations, cultures and lands of the globe. There is no movement surrounding it. There emanates from within a small soft light. The tent itself seems to be full of a slow, rhythmic pulsing not unlike a human heart.|PRE-PRAYERING|It is now two days before the celebration of the Epiphany, or the feast of Jesus' being acknowledged from beyond and afar. WE have this liturgy to enjoy once more prayerfully the event of God's coming to earth and embracing our earthiness.|We can pray these days for the Spirit of Wisdom to allow our hearts and minds to work together to receive the mind and heart of God. We pray in the presence of the Word Made Flesh that we might experience again for the first time, God's faithful and personal love for each of us. As we have received gifts appropriate to the season, we pray with open hands once more to receive what we believe; God has pitched a divine tent among us and forever.|REFLECTION|We hear Wisdom celebrating Herself in the First Reading from the Book of Sirach, which is also known as Ecclesiasticus. Wisdom proclaims that She was there from the beginning of eternity. She was there at the beginning of time when the earth was formed. Her tent or dwelling was in the beyond. God sent Wisdom to pitch a tent on earth, in Israel and to remain. Wisdom guides the temple worship as perfectly as She guides all of creation. She has taken root within the property of God's people and inheritance.|The Gospel is the poetic introduction to John's account of Jesus' ministries of teaching, healing, dying and rising. The Word is a divine "Who," a person, not an idea or riddle. The Word fashions a history for the mystery of God. "All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be." More than creation is offered through him, but "life" which is a light which any form of darkness can not diminish.|After some verses about the role of John the Baptist who came to testify to the "light," we hear that the "light" has come into the world to enlighten everything and everyone. The Word, Jesus by name, came to his world and to his ancient beloved people, but neither knew him or accepted him. He came to dwell within his ancient family and upon the ancient soil. His tent of flesh has been pitched among us so that all might find their identity and sense of belonging within him. Those who come to believe in his being the Light, the Christ, are given the identity of being "children of God."|In John's Gospel Jesus moves the presence of God from the temple in Jerusalem to the tent of his fleshly body. Instead of our going up to the temple, that Holy Temple has come to us as one of us. The Tent is more than a specifically locatable place, but now a relationship. This historical person came as such, but now remains within the confines of all that was created through him and in him. He remains within the Sacraments of life, which allow us to extend his light into the darkness.|You might shine a flashlight directly on a globe of the world and that light remains specific to the location at which you point. If you move the light to another area, that which was in the light, now is in the dark. Jesus as light illumines more than a place, his light "enlightens everyone." His light is direct, but in a sense, unspecific. He remains to be specified in the lives of those who believe in him and in what he has said about them individually.|Perhaps you received a gift for Christmas which said more than words could say. It may have said much about the giver and her or his feelings towards you. That gift may be saying more about you as well. You may be loved and known more than you ever thought possible. In receiving that gift you are invited, even forced, to receive also what is being said. To receive the gift, but not this inclusive wrapping or intention, is a sacrilege.|With his birth, Jesus is saying much about the Giver and much more about himself as gift and much about us the intended receivers. He is born to identify us and this world as belonging to him and always in him.|I recall receiving my first wristwatch one Christmas. I felt a dignity, a grownupness about wearing this sign of maturity. I was ten. I remember walking around with my left arm extended just enough. I wanted the other "grownups" to know that I had "arrived." Even during the cold days of that late December my arms were free from anything which would de-identify me.|In celebrating these days of Christmas we are invited to extend his light around the globe through the relationships to which he sends us. He has "arrived"; we have "arrived" at the state of a maturity by receiving and believing who he says we are. As gift he came; as gifts we go until he "arrives" to his maturity of the whole human race.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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