Last Day of The Year 2011 Mass Reflection

The Mass for the last day of 2011 contains St John's Gospel , which begins" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Mark Twain, who certainly had a way with words, once said, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

We cannot see God but we have the Scriptures and we have His Word, sometimes edited, often disputed and manipulated, disowned and disgraced.

Image Paul Klee Pierrot Lunaire

Christ's imagination was beyond any human reckoning and before He died He gave us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, as a permanent gift  of his real presence.

The ultimate source of all that is within me is renewed and contained by the sacramental imagination of God : in the real presence of that simple host and cup at His altar of reconciliation lies the Truth.

That is what I need to keep my eyes on in the days ahead, through 2012, to sharpen my focus and understanding of the seen Word and trust in the action of the unseen Holy Spirit.

"God is the ultimate and absolute source of all being; but this universal
principle of creation – the Logos, primordial reason – is at the same time a
lover with all the passion of a true love. 

Eros is thus supremely ennobled,yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape . . . we experience the love of God, we perceive His presence and we learn to recognise that presence in our daily lives. " Pope Benedict XVI

  • Previous post for St John's Feast Day celebrated on 27th December 2010 is here 

St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in the centre of London is visited by thousands of people each day. For the millennium celebrations, Mike Chapman was commissioned to produce a sculpture to be placed in Trafalgar Square, during Christmas prior to the celebrations.

He said "It seemed to me that a tiny life-size baby carved from stone in such an enormous environment would be the best way to remind us all of just whose birthday we were celebrating. 
In  Portland stone, the work "The Christ Child". can be found at the entrance to the church and nestling at the top of a four and a half tonne block, the tiny baby Jesus  still bearing its umbilical cord lies in the very centre.


On the side of the stone base is inscribed one of the most profound and shocking  statements that define the Christian faith for millions of people including myself:

'In the beginning was the Word...and the Word became flesh and lived among us' .
the words from the beginning of the Gospel of John in today's Mass.

Looking at these beautiful photos and living through this Advent and Christmas and many others in my life so far, allows me to believe however falteringly at times, that the Word IS still living among us, bound to us, quite literally, by flesh.

This child – unthreatening, carries all the hopes for humanity.  Because of this one life, all humanity is restored – the flash of the divine in all of us can  leap up in this strange moment.  

We don’t believe it much of the time of course, any more than the disciples did at times– and so God’s glory remains veiled; but if we did, really, believe it – and if we lived as if He asked us to …what a difference that would make.  

Mankind wanted and believed that God would become flesh and of course when He did they did not recognise Him. 

Even the few disciples that briefly saw the blinding light of Jesus' transfiguration into a divine God on Mount Tabor were later to deny and abandon him at his trial.

For most of us mountain top experiences like that are few and far between and we plod through ordinarily humdrum working days of our life trying to live by odd flashes of light and inspiration. 

If we are attentive we can see glimpses of the Kingdom of heaven:  odd visions of peace and justice momentarily illuminated, God with the suffering people of our world – the walls and divisions of war broken through, and through the cyclical seasons of nature, in acts of kindness from people; strangers and friends,  in the care and love from our partners and families.

If we are lucky we can see God using interruptions in our lives as opportunities to light dynamite within us, intimations of a beauty which is otherwise hidden from us for much of the time. 

But the gospel of John takes us back to that possibility of renewal of faith, in that newness of the baby Jesus that however fragile, can restore our faith in all that is good and true .
God is with us. But then we have to believe in the small matter of  the Resurrection... that comes later.....

Gospel from John 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life,

and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.

He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God, 

to those who believe in his name, 

who were born not by natural generation 

nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision 

but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me."

From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,

because while the law was given through Moses, 

grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


No one has ever seen God.

The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

Poster below from this website which has extensive stuff on John's Gospels.

Here is a sample

"What is the reason for life? What is the purpose of life? How can you know?

John, the friend of Jesus, begins with a declaration: “In the beginning was the word . . . this word was the life of men.”

John gives us a sign. He declares that Jesus is the word of life and the authority of life. Here is a person who is our sign to life, our reference point in life. In Him was life and this life has come down. He has become one of us.

John addresses the central questions: “What is life? Where can it be found?” John finds the answer in asking the question: “Who is Jesus?”

John’s Gospel presents proofs of life, signs of life. Jesus gives us the signs and then becomes the sign. He is the central hinge in life, the divine word of God who has come down and demonstrated His life as the light of men.

But John does more than that. He expects a response from his readers—a response of belief. “Believe” occurs 98 times in this gospel. As Thomas believes after seeing the sign, so should we. We must see. We must respond. We must believe.

John concludes with these words: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples which are now recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and by believing you may have life in his name”.

As John begins with a declaration of faith, he concludes with doubting Thomas’ expression of faith, “My Lord and my God.” John presents the work of Jesus as signs and the person of Jesus as the sign. 

Jesus is to be seen as the centre of life, the sign of life and the Son of God in life. Jesus is the sign to be believed in order that the questions of life end in the Him, the Sign of Life."


Thousands of words have been written about the gospel of John and I am not a theologian but if you can stand a small dose of it, this fascinating video is well worth your time. 

It gives some context to the gospel of John, by exploring the meaning and application of the opening verses which speak of the "Word."

In Greek, "logos" is the word used and he compares the understanding of the word logos in different philosophies including the Gnostics and how important it was for John to distance himself from these false beliefs. 

For additional information on the wonderful sculptor Mike Chapman, 
please visit his website

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