Commentary on the Gospel of

Larry Gillick, S.J. - Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality


This is the Eve-Day for the coming of the “new and improved” year.  In this northern part of our globe it is the darkest time, but is heading for more of the sun’s light and warmth in the coming days and weeks.

The third verse of the first chapter of Genesis is a quite puzzling account of the very first act of creation. “Light” comes into the picture!  Ah, but there is not anything to be seen by that “light”.  We might want to ponder this a bit.  Perhaps “light” becomes a statement of God’s pre-existing of all things and without that “light” nothing existed. If there were other acts of creational-love, but they could not be seen, then why would there be any creation!

Our Gospel for this liturgy is called The Prologue or literary instruction, or statement of the major themes and theologies of John’s Gospel account of Jesus’ coming into the world and staying.

The very first verse is the first verse of the Genesis account of creation. John’s whole Gospel presents Jesus as both the intensification or continuation of God’s creational-love and how His death and resurrection completes that love. Yes, New and Improved and definite!

In the old Latin Mass, we older folks knew this very Reading as The Last Gospel, that is, it was read almost in silence at the very end of the Mass, because it is quite a summary of what the Eucharistic celebration is.  So in a sense, again we read it as the last Gospel of the calendar year.

The word “light” is used six times in the first nine verses of this preview of the Gospel of Jesus as meant to be seen. The first twelve chapters of John’s Gospel are known as The Book of Signs, that is Jesus’ miracles are meant to be seen as revelations of His identity and mission. In the first appearance of Jesus publicly, He invites two disciples of John the Baptist to “come and see.” For John, seeing is not actually believing, but seeing signs as invitations to belief is God’s way of reverencing our human reluctance to flat-out believe. We need the light to edge us along in our darkness. This human darkness leads us to fear, to create artificial ways of seeing; we do not want to be duped, tricked or fooled with. We humans want to see, comprehend, grab-hold and know it and then we can call that faith.

God’s creation of each of us has been and still is assisted by persons who have let us know who we really are. We probably have had persons who also deformed or damaged our images of our real selves. Jesus as Light, came to dwell among us and in doing so, in John’s Gospel as well as in our lives, has stayed to gently, but insistently reveal who each of us is and who we all are together. He came as Light to, both shine through creation and radiate His Light through us.

Reflecting then on this past year, what have we seen, what has been seen through us? There has been darkness and perhaps the darkness has increased through our own participation in the virus of self-negativity and subsequently, the contagion of criticism. We can consider how the Light has overcome that dark-spirited way of not-seeing. The “grace-upon-grace” in our lives offers us to others and to life’s situations as real blessings, imagine that! No! not for imagining, but end-of-the year and beginning-of-the-year reflection and acceptance.

Perhaps we can set aside the umbrella of disappointment and gloom which may have darkened our being in His Light and being His Light. As G. M. Hopkins writes, “Keeps grace that keeps all his goings graces.” We, as with John, are not the Light, but we testify to the Light by which we know and accept who He created us to be, “Children of God, Imagine that! No! Pray with and enjoy who His Light has created us to be and see! Have a Light-full New Year! 


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