Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Feast of Saint John, apostle and evangelist

(I John 1:1-4; John 20:1a.2-8)

Once a disillusioned pilgrim returned from the Holy Land lamenting the conditions he encountered.  Not only was there strife between Jews and Arabs, but hawkers constantly besieged him with souvenir trinkets.  Even in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born on a serene night, he found conflict.  The man marveled at how times had changed since the serene night when the animals crowded around the infant Jesus to give him warmth.  However, he only had to read the Scriptures closely to realize that trouble is nothing new to the area.

Although the Gospel of Luke depicts a tranquil setting for Jesus’ birth, there is much evidence of conflict in New Testament times.  In John’s gospel Jesus conducts a running debate with the Jews who try to kill him.  The Letters of John report a feud between the community of the beloved disciple and a secessionist group who apparently believed that morals do not matter.  Of course, there is the acrimonious debate between Jesus and the Pharisees which is believed to reflect trouble between the first Christians and their Jewish countrymen.

In spite of all this conflict, the writer of the First Letter of John offers a testimony of hope.  Much more than a dream or vision, his testimony involves a living human being whose countenance he saw, whose voice he heard, and whose body he touched.  We do not look to this one so much for deliverance from the pressures of life.  Rather we count on him for the courage to address our problems with justice and justice.