“In the beginning was the Word,” says St. John (John 1:1) in an echo of Genesis 1. There, in the beginning of creation, was the word of God spoken into the dark seas of the primal chaos and drawing forth the beginning of the universe as we know it. Powerful, that word. Creative. Life-giving.
The story of that word continues into the gospel of John, where the evangelist provides us with more detail: “….the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be” (John 1:1-3) The word God spoke in Genesis is now recognized as the Person we have come to know as “the second Person of the Blessed Trinity,” a difficult abstraction John makes concrete: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Ah! Here is the One who is at the center of the Christmas mystery we are still celebrating as the Christmas season unfolds toward Epiphany: Jesus Christ, the Son of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, born in a Bethlehem stable, cradled in his Mother’s arms as shepherds and Magi troop through to view the Savior no one expected to meet as an infant. This Word, spoken into flesh by the Holy Spirit, is also powerful, creative, life-giving. Hard to imagine that in the Nativity scenes around us, but true nonetheless. And this Word, Jesus Christ, grew up to speak in turn the powerful, creative, life-giving word into the ordinary lives of ordinary people in first century Palestine. But the Word, Jesus Christ, spoke the great word of love finally on the cross, dying a human death as he had been born in a human birth, but in so doing, unleashing the full force of God’s life-giving breath into all that is. Still with us, as he promised the apostles (Matthew 28:20), he still speaks that word to us in our ordinary everyday lives, if only we will listen (and sometimes even when we don't!)
If you haven’t dotted the final “i” and crossed the final “t” on your New Year’s resolutions, you might give some thought to adding on something like “becoming a better listener to the Word of life.” A little time spent daily with the Bible, a little thought given to the Word of life spoken through the people and events around us, a little silence in which to recognize where it comes from, that whisper that tugs at us off and on throughout the day, or gives us a little push along a path we weren’t expecting to take, or simply offers us the strength and comfort that come from knowing we are loved, no matter what the cynics around us say. That’s the word God speaks to us at the beginning of every day.
Happy New Year!
Copyright 2018, Abbey of St. Walburga