January 2 – Readings of the Day
After a week spent looking at the manger and contemplating the great gift that God has given us, the gift of His own self, now I am asked to look at my relationship with this mystery. How do I react to the coming of the Lord into my life? What kind of life am I supposed to live now that I know that God is with us?
As I continue to meditate on 1 John, I hear in the background the controversies that were going on at that time; although a bit different, these controversies are still going on today: Who is Jesus? And what does it have to do with me?
How strong the temptation to romanticize the “first time” of Christianity, when everybody seemed to get along, when they understood who Jesus is, lived out His words and were filled with the Holy Spirit. The reality is that they struggled more than I do in understanding who Jesus is. I have the luxury of standing on the shoulder of the great thinkers of early Christianity, from John to Basil and Gregory (whom we remember today). Yes, they struggle to understand who Jesus was: was He simply a powerful and spiritual man? was He God? but if He is either a man or God, then what does salvation mean? Today these questions can only find a bit more clarity then at the time of John, since they are all a mystery… but we all struggle.
The struggle points to something deep and important: if we stay with what Jesus said, and we understand Him correctly than we can talk about a fellowship with God, about a deeper communion and union with Him. This is what we have been called to: sharing in God’s life as He now shares in ours.
But how can I do that? How can I grow in this relationship? The story of John in the Gospel helps me. Before the manger I hear, too, hear the question: “Who are you?” and “what do you say about yourself?” I need to answer these questions. If I want to proclaim Jesus as Messiah, I have no other choice but to answer these questions.
“I am not the Messiah, the Christ.” This is how John answers. This is how I am supposed to answer, too. “I am Not….”If I say that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer than I say that I am NOT all those things. But, as I keep my eyes on the manger, I know that these opposing realities are now merged into one as a “holy exchange”. I am not the Savior but I live as a “saved” person. I am not the redeemer but I live as a redeemed.
This is what I want to witness, then. The “holy exchange” is a reality and we can live our lives together with God. Ultimately, the truth comes up again: we are more truly ourselves when we think less about ourselves.
It’s time to start a new kind of Christian Witness Program.