The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
(I John 2:18-21; John 1:1-18)
For some Catholics the ponderous words of today’s gospel are quite familiar. These people were raised before the Second Vatican Council when the first fourteen verses of the passage were recited at the end of every mass. For this reason they are sometimes referred to as “The Last Gospel.”
The passage’s opening verses address the ancient controversy of whether Christ was really God. Some postulate that belief in Christ’s divinity contradicts God’s unity. The verses show how Christ, the Word, can be the one God yet exist in distinction from the Father: he comes from the Father yet not after the Father since he and the Father with the Spirit existed before time began when there was no before and after. The passage further relates that the Word actually took on human flesh to ground Christian belief not in hypothesis but in the deeds of an historical persona, Jesus of Nazareth.
Used as the gospel we read at the final mass of the year, the passage allows us to peak beyond the end of time while it reinforces the purpose of the Word becoming flesh. As Christ existed with the Father before time began, his work as human makes us God’s children so that we might exist with him, the Father, and the Spirit when time ends.