“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
We have just celebrated God becoming one of us in the birth of Jesus, one of the greatest acts of humility and love in all of history.
Yet in the world around us one year comes to a close and a new one begins full of conflict and strife, much like they have for centuries. Wars continue in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. Incidents of terror and mass shootings take place in our own country and abroad. The church is rocked with a sexual abuse scandal. Identity politics and political agendas are tearing apart the very fabric of our nation’s traditions and moral values.
The first chapter of John’s Gospel offers both a realistic context for what we have just celebrated and a hope that can carry us through the new year. We will not read about it in the news media. Speaking of Jesus, John says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” Not a single governmental or spiritual leader in Israel took note of Jesus’ birth. Only a few lowly shepherds were his herald. In fact Israel’s king actually wanted to kill Jesus, not unlike some authoritarian regimes in our day.
“He came unto his own, but his own did not receive him.” Even before Jesus was born, he was rejected by the innkeeper who had no room for him. As Jesus later revealed his presence and identity, the religious leaders of his day also rejected him and even sought his death.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
This is our hope for the coming year! When we open the door of our heart to Jesus and invite him in, he says, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” “I am the way, the truth and the life.” “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 15: 4; John 14:6, 23)
When we let Jesus and the Father make their home in us, we experience the world around us with a different perspective. An inner peace is possible even though there is a lack of peace externally. Jesus says:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” (John 14:27)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt. 11:28-29)
“In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
A blessed New Year to all!