The Seventh Day within the Octave of Christmas
1 John 2:18-21 + John 1:1-18
December 31, 2021
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us ….
In terms of the Gospel Reading at weekday Mass, today is something of a hinge within the Christmas Season. Yesterday’s Gospel Reading concluded the narratives of the Presentation, ending by referring to the Holy Family’s return to Nazareth, where Jesus grew in His sacred humanity.
Today’s Gospel Reading is the prologue of St. John’s Gospel account. This prologue alternates between poetic descriptions of the divine Word of God who became flesh, and narrative descriptions of the ministry of St. John the Baptist. These two forms come together, however, in the last three verses of the prologue [John 1:16-18]. The one whom John foretold manifests Himself as the source of grace for all who believe in Him.
Throughout the remainder of Christmastide, the Gospel Reading at weekday Mass presents Jesus as an adult during the three years of His public ministry. This might seem out of place during Christmastide, although understandable from a practical perspective since the narratives of Jesus’ conception, birth, and infancy are relatively few.
The narratives of Jesus’ public ministry that we hear during the rest of Christmastide in fact have an important purpose. They point our attention forward to the purpose of the Incarnation: that is, the purpose of Christmastide. That purpose is to manifest the divine presence in the world in the Person of Jesus. This is why Christmastide culminates in feasts of the Lord Jesus’ epiphany. The word “epiphany” means “revelation”, and the epiphanies of the Lord call for a response from each person who witnesses them.