|This is the day which ends the past year and the evening which begins the next. Janus, a Roman deity, had two faces, one looking backward and the other forward. Janus was the god of doorways, of transitions, especially in the times of the ending of wars. So Jan-uary is a beginning. Today, with this Eucharistic liturgy, we experience the ending of one year of our lives and the opening of the next.
Our Gospel begins with a “beginning” which actually had no beginning. I know this sounds as if I have lost my way, but that is what it says. The “Word” was always with the Eternal God Who had no before, no starting point. John’s Gospel echoes the first verse of the Book of Genesis in the same way. John’s whole Gospel story of Jesus will echo the creating-God’s laboring to bring light out of darkness, order out of chaos, life out of non-life and honor out of shame.
What we read and hear today are eighteen verses which act as a prelude, a poetic introduction and a hinting of the major themes and events remembered and recorded within the community formed many years after the actual Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Many books have been written about this unique narrative. This Reflection today centers on only one, but extremely important aspect buried within this Prologue. Why did the pre-existent Word become flesh, become visible to “pitch His Tent among us?”
Jesus is come as “Light” into the “darkness.” “Light” is mentioned seven times within the reading of the Gospel for today’s liturgy. “Light” is “Life” for the world, to the world. The first words in the first chapter of Genesis, verse three, are “Let there be light.” The formless is then visible. The whole entirety of our Holy Scriptures and our Faith flows from this very simple creative verse. Creation has to be seen to be known. “Flesh” has to see itself as it is, not merely by itself, but by its Creator. Jesus, as Word and Light, has come into our darkness to enlighten us about who the Creator sees us and all other creatures to be.
Last Wednesday we celebrated, beginning with a liturgy at midnight, how in the darkness a Light had shone. In an instant of time, the Timeless Word took on time to help us see and hear who we are and who we are meant to become. It is a most perfect Gospel for the end of one section of time and the beginning of the next.
This past year we have seen enough of ourselves and each other to know that we need an increase of that Light. We know our human darkness and yet we have seen God’s Light, still pitched among us. The Light remains, inviting us out of our formless chaos into the honor of being “Children of God.” The Light shines, not as a detective, or accuser, but as a Finder, Healer and Savior. Every day, every moment is the continuation of the Old becoming New. Jesus is the timeless resolution, renewed within the moments of our lives. The Old begins something new within each moment of our lives, both this past year and within the year soon to begin. “In the beginning” is always and in all ways, now!