Today’s Gospel: John 20: 1A, 2-8
This is a week of heavy-hitter feast days. Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John the Evangelist. In the Gospel, John hears news of the Resurrection from Mary Magdalene, though none of them realize yet what has happened. Upon hearing that the Lord’s body was no longer in the tomb, Peter and John bolt out the door, running as fast as they can to the place where Jesus was laid. John, the younger of the pair, pulls ahead of Peter, arrives first, peeks in, but ultimately defers to the head of the Apostles, allowing Peter to enter the tomb first to inspect it.
What a strange sight greeted them! No body, the wrappings for the body left in the tomb with no evidence as to exactly what happened. Saint John believed. Perhaps at that moment, he recalled the words of Jesus earlier in the year: that He would be handed over to the chief priests to die, but that He would rise up on the third day. At the time, hardly anyone understood what Jesus was talking about. But here, on the third day, Jesus was not in the tomb.
What joy they had after all had been made clear. (They were helped along by Jesus coming to the Upper Room, appearing on the shores of Galilee, teaching them further about the Paraclete who would come.) We can see this in the first reading today, from the First Letter of St. John: “…we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.”
As Christians, we are called to have complete joy in God. We have such a radiant hope through Christ, a heavenly home that waits for us, a God who loves us more than we can even begin to imagine. This week, we celebrate Christmas Day. Yes, Christmas Day! The Octave of Christmas is one liturgical day, and we are especially reminded of God’s goodness and mercy on this Christmas Day, when we gaze at the babe in the manger. Even though we know this tiny baby’s brow will someday be pierced by thorns, that He will be mocked and killed, we look at this Gospel reading and remember, too, that in the end there is great glory, hope, and JOY!
Have I allowed the joy of Christmas to truly enter my heart? How do I let that joy express itself? Am I letting the world put a damper on the Christian joy I should have? If so, what can I do to limit that influence and find joy in my daily life?
Lord Jesus, You have come to me in this Christmas season, not just as a baby in the manger, but into my very heart as my Lord and Savior. Help me to never allow the world to steal the joy that is mine, or to forget that fellowship with You will make my joy complete.
Copyright 2014 Christine Johnson