Monday, December 30, 2013

John 1:14-18 A Transition to Speaking of John the Baptist

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”)  From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

The testimony of John the Baptist features here for the first time.  John appears as the one who "prepares the way of the Lord" in all of the gospels.  Here John the Evangelist points out that what John said points to the preexistence of Jesus.  We know from the gospel of Luke that Jesus was not before John in the way of the world.  So to preexist John is to be in existence prior to His human conception.  Here the Evangelist points out that the glory of being God's only son is the source of all the grace and truth in the world.  It is from this grace (the bounty of God's gifts to us) and the truth, i.e. what conforms to reality itself, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" that we know God for He is only seen most clearly through His son.  "When you see me you see the Father" he tells Phillip later in John's gospel.  This short passage is a transition to speaking of John the Baptist.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Institute of Catholic Culture On The Epistle of St. Clement of Rome

Epistle of Clement of Rome The Institute of Catholic Culture is something I only recently discovered and it is a gold mine of fascinating talks. Whether you're a Catholic or a member of the separated brethren or just a person seeking to have some intelligent discussion of some interesting topics, mostly religiously motivated, then this is a great website to know about.

Monday, November 18, 2013

John 1:6-13 A Man Named John

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
After introducing the Word, John the Evangelist introduces John the Baptist.  John is the precursor who is to prepare the way of the Lord as foretold in the scriptures.

Isaiah 40: A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Malachi 3: See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

Matthew 3:This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.’”

The true light who enters the world is one who preexisted and "... the world came into being through him; ..." a claim to divinity since we know the world came into being through God.  He come incognito into the world, hidden as it were and the people to whom he comes and reveals himself mostly don't receive him.  But those who did receive him received a special gift.  They are given the power to become children of God.  It is a power not a blind gift for they must first receive him through believing in his name and become literally children of God born not of blood or human will or flesh but born of God himself.  This is a gift beyond price and certainly beyond any human merit.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

John 1:1-5 In the beginning ...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

What are we to think of this?  God is in the beginning with the Word.  I suppose unpacking "beginning" might be helpful.  God stands outside of space and time, so a word like beginning can only refer to the beginning of something and the only something we know of is our own cosmos.  The "Word" translates the Greek word logos (λόγος) which has many more meanings than the English word "Word."  It means not only the spoken word but such things as reasoned discourse and underlying structure or generative word hence a kind of fruitfulness.

This Word is with God and the Word was God ... now just stop for a minute.  You can't just be with God and be God unless you're distinct in some sense in the two usages.  This is the source among other sayings of Jesus for the doctrine of the Trinity.  The Word is in the beginning with God.  The Word is God.  And the Word is the agency of creation.  Note that it says "Through him all things were made and repeats the claim in the negative, that nothing was made without him.  Now we see the Word is a him.  The Word is the creative power of God but is distinct from God yet God.  Sounds like two of the persons of the Trinity.

Now we get another aspect "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind."   Here we see the Word, God, creator, is also the generator of life which is clearer with logos than with 'Word.'  The light illuminates mankind.  Now this seems clearly a metaphor.  What kind of light illuminates mankind and is also appropriately described as the Word?  Aristotle uses the word logos in the sense of reasoned discourse.  So one possibility is that the light is the light of man's reason illuminating his mind.  It may also be a spiritual light, illuminating his soul, a kind of grace that raises him above where he would be purely by nature.

Finally we see the light shining in the darkness and the darkness not being able to overcome it.  To be overcome by darkness is to have your light extinguished.  This would work equally well with spiritual light which could be extinguished by sin and hence darken the soul or intellectual light where are reason is darkened by our submission to baser passions.

All of these understandings seem to apply and so we see the action of the logos creating and illuminating us intellectually and spiritually, a truly intimate relationship with God.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Am I Going To Do With This Blog?

Well it's been a long time since I visited my blog here.  I originally started it with the thought that it would be a good way to encourage me to contemplate and write about scripture on a regular basis but as often happens, my best laid plans, well intended though they may have been, soon enough came to naught.  But I would like to change that.  I'm not sure of the best way to go about it.  Perhaps the way would be to pick something to systematically go through and write about regularly and I was thinking that the other day when the Holy Spirit jogged me and said "The Gospel of John" ... I love the gospel of John so I'm going to try to get back in harness and write reflections on the gospel of John going through it systematically.