Prologue to the Gospel of John

Father Lawrence Heiney

Advent Season is a time to prepare for the Coming of the Lord. During the first week we rekindle our desire for the second coming of Christ. Then we move into preparing for the celebration of the Word becoming flesh, to dwell among us as our light and life. The celebration is called Christmas for on 25 Dec the Christians gathered to offer the Mass of Christ. There they read the Prologue of the Gospel of John.

During December, I want to give reflections on this Prologue so we may prepare our hearts and minds for the great feast. I hope these meditations will focus us on the person and nature of Jesus. We will put ourselves into Christmas.

The feast of Christmas was first observed about 325 in Rome. This was soon after the Council of Nicea was held in Asia Minor. The Church leaders had gathered in that place because Christians were divided on how Jesus was related to the Father. Was He Divine; was He human? Who is God? Think back a few years ago when the movie “the Last Temptation of Christ” was released – the conversation got heated but nowhere near what it was then.

The Bishops composed the Nicene Creed, which some of our Churches still use. It affirmed the full divinity of Jesus and the oneness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one nature. In a later Council, it was affirmed that Jesus was human like us in all things but did not sin. One of the Scripture passages they prayed over in their deliberations was The Prologue to the Gospel of John.

One of the church leaders at Nicea was the Bishop of Myra in Turkey, Nicholas. St. Nicholas helped in the writing of the Creed which was the fruit of meditating on the Prologue of John. This is the greatest gift that St Nicholas ever gave us.

In the beginning was the Word;

The Word was with God

And the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through Him all things came into being,

Not one thing came into being

Except through him.

What has come into being in him is life,

Life that was the light of men.

And light shines in darkness,

And darkness could not overpower it.

Jn 1,1-5 (NJB)

Such wonderful mystical poetry! Jesus is identified with the Wisdom of God, rendered as Logos, “Word” in Greek. The Word is not created, not confined to space and time. In the beginning God first brought forth time and space for His creation. Then through the Word the universe came out of the void. Life came to be. Nothing came to be except through the Word. Vegetation covered the world. Creatures filled the waters. They came onto the land and some had wings that soared over the earth.

Finally the Word stirred in one creature who stood erect. The Word inspired life in this one. He and she received a spirit, a soul in the image of God. This life became their light for it hears the Word that is living and active. Their eyes are enlightened with the Wisdom of God.

A Prologue is the words that introduce a story. We are being introduced to Jesus and to the Gospel that He will proclaim. Jesus knows us already. He has been with us since our origins. We are not alien to Him for He is integral to our being. He is the essence of our minds. Jesus has come to us to be our light and life.

At Christmas, we celebrate how Jesus has shared life with us. He welcomes our sharing of life with Him.

Father Lawrence Heiney is minister at Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church in Mount Airy.

Father Lawrence Heiney

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