One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

December 27, 2010

For the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

1 John 1:1-4 John 20:1a,2-8

In pastures near Bethlehem, an angel told Judean shepherds they would find “in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” and that they would find him as “a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” [Lk. 2:11]— swaddled and in a manger, an animals feeding trough that did not even belong to the baby’s parents.
Today in the Gospel, Galilean fishermen run to the tomb where they had buried the same baby as a grown man— a tomb that did not belong to that man or his parents— and there the fishermen found the empty cloths that had swaddled the dead man’s body and head.
The baby’s swaddling clothes in the manger and the man’s swaddling clothes in the tomb served very different yet similar sets of purposes.
The baby’s swaddling clothes embraced him, calmed him, comforted him, warmed him, and kept him still.
The dead man’s swaddling clothes also embraced him, but could do nothing to warm, comfort, or calm his dead body.
The dead man’s body lay in stillness within the swaddling cloths of the tomb for only two nights, because on the third day he rose, and death would no longer swaddle or even so much as touch him again.
Our faith swaddles him now, or, rather, he swaddles us with eternal life, and St. John who was there at the tomb with St. Peter overflows in telling it by his letter to us.
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have looked upon
and touched with our hands
... the Word of life—
... made visible;
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
[“communion,” “oneness,” “participation,” “sharing”]
with us;
for our fellowship
[“communion,” “oneness,” “participation,” “sharing”]
is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

By sharing, participation, oneness, communion, fellowship with the apostles, we hear, see, and touch what they did: the Word of eternal life that now swaddles us.
We hear this in the following poetic lines from the “Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church” [202]:
We believe in God the Creator of the flesh;
and we believe in the resurrection of flesh
which is the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.

He came to save the body of flesh, because, in the same passage the Church says also, “the flesh is the hinge of salvation.”
Also, in her Catechism [1003-1004], the Church says of our fellowship with Christ that:
.... When we rise on the last day we also will appear with him in glory.
In expectation of that day, the believer’s BODY and soul ALREADY participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ....

That we might be swaddled, body and soul, with eternal salvation, we now eat and drink communion now, sharing now, participation now, fellowship now, oneness now in the real flesh and real blood of the man whose first earthly bed was a borrowed manger and whose last earthly bed was a borrowed tomb.
In the same flesh and blood, Christ Jesus the Lord now has his own everlasting throne.
St. John wrote of it in his letter and his Gospel, and we celebrate it now, so that, as he writes, “our joy may be complete.”

That God Be Glorified in All