Thursday - Christmas Time
1) Opening prayer
Father, you make known the salvation of mankind
at the birth of your Son.
Make us strong in faith
and bring us to the glory you promise.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - John 1,29-34
The next day, he saw Jesus coming towards him and said, 'Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. It was of him that I said, "Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me because he existed before me." I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptise with water was so that he might be revealed to Israel.'
And John declared, 'I saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven and rest on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, "The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is to baptise with the Holy Spirit." I have seen and I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.'
• In the Gospel of John, history and the symbol join together. In today’s text, the symbolism consists above all in recalling texts of the Old Testament which we know and which reveal something concerning the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. In these few verses (Jn 1, 29-34) we find the following expressions which contain a symbolical density or depth: 1) Lamb of God; 2) Who takes away the sins of the world; 3) He existed before me; 4) The descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove; 5) Son of God.
• Lamb of God. This title recalls, brings to mind, the Exodus. The night of the first Passover. The blood of the Paschal Lamb, with which the doors of the houses were signed, was for the people a sign of liberation (Ex 12, 13-14). For the first Christians Jesus is the new Paschal Lamb who liberates his people (1 Co 5, 7; 1 P 1, 19; Rev 5, 6.9).
• Who takes away the sins of the World. This recalls a very beautiful phrase of the prophecy of Jeremiah: “There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbour or brother: “You will know the Lord, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, says the Lord; since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind” (Jer 31, 34).
• He existed before me. This recalls several texts of the Books of Wisdom, in which it is spoken about God’s Wisdom which existed before all the other creatures and which was with God, like a master of the works in the creation of the Universe and that, at the end, fixed her dwelling among the people of God (Pro 8, 22-31; Eccl 24, 1-11).
• The descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove. It recalls the creative action where it is said that the “Spirit of God sweeping over the waters” (Gen 1, 2). The text of Genesis suggests the image of a bird which flies over its nest. An image of the new creation in movement thanks to the action of Jesus.
• Son of God; this is the title which summarizes all the others. The best comment of this title is the explanation of Jesus himself: “The Jews answered him: ‘We are stoning you not for doing a good work, but for blasphemy: though you are only a man, you claim to be God”. Jesus answered: “Is it not written in your Law: I said: you are gods? So it uses the word ‘gods’ of those people to whom the word of God was addressed (and Scripture cannot be set aside), Yet to someone whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ because I said, ‘I am Son of God’? If I am not doing my Father’s work there is no need to believe me, but if I am doing it, then even if you refuse to believe in me, at least believe in the work I do; then you will know for certain that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10, 33-38).
4) Personal questions
• Jesus offered himself, completely, for the whole of humanity, and I, what can I offer to help my neighbour?
• We have also received the Holy Spirit. How conscious or aware am I that I am his Temple?
5) Concluding prayer
Sing a new song to Yahweh,
for he has performed wonders,
his saving power is in his right hand
and his holy arm. (Ps 98,1)