December 27, 2021
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University's Former Chair of the Department of Journalism, Media and Computing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist
Lectionary: 697

1 John 1:1-4
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
John 20:1a and 2-8

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What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life —for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it. -- John

Years ago, I read the Bible cover to cover like a regular book, not studying it, just reading it.  It took months but was worth the effort because I gained a holistic conception of the historic Jesus. I was especially struck by the numerous concrete details that document Jesus’ life, just as John writes in today’s first reading.

“What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life …We have seen it and testify to it.”

While John and the other evangelists weren’t AP reporters, if they hadn’t gotten their basic facts straight, hundreds of contemporary witnesses would have called them out. As a journalist I can attest to this!

I was also struck by the consistent profile of Jesus that emerges from the accounts of four different evangelists writing at four different times in four different places. He’s always the same person even if details in some stories differ or have been rearranged to fit a narrative. In addition, Jesus’ message is consistent no matter which evangelist we’re reading.

John writes as a witness to real events that he can testify to and Gospel accounts offer historic names and context that can be verified. Archaeologists and scripture scholars have found sites that match the descriptions in the New Testament.

We still have to grapple with faith questions about Jesus as both God and man, but his existence can’t easily be dismissed as a myth or fable by people like one of my college history professors. That makes it a lot easier for skeptical modern people like me to believe.

I started the Bible reading exercise partially to see if I could plow through the Old Testament as I sought to discover if I really was a Christian. Happily, I found my answer.

By reading the entire Bible, I came to see that John and the other evangelists could not possibly have invented Jesus. There is simply no other comparable figure in history or literature.

He was a real man from a certain time, place, and culture but his divine message is universal and universally demanding. Christians of every generation and culture can apply it to their circumstances.

Reading the whole Bible made me a Christian in fact as well as name. Now the challenge is to live like one!

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