Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Echoes of the Word 25th December 2016

Commentary on John 1:1-18

The prologue of St John has a special place in Christian theology, and for centuries was recited at the end of the Mass as summing up the whole of redemption. It begins with God’s creation by the Word, and ends with the completion of the purpose of creation through the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. In the centre comes the incarnation, which enables and invites those who accept Christ to become the children of God. The Gospel story of Mark begins at the baptism of Jesus, and the voice from heaven declaring that he is God’s Son. Matthew and Luke add the infancy stories to show that Jesus possessed and manifested these divine qualities right from his birth. John goes back beyond this, to meditate on the ultimate part in both creation and its fulfilment of the Word who became flesh. Perhaps the most exultant cry of all is ‘we have seen his glory’, for the glory belongs rightly to God alone. This statement contains the paradox that Christ as a human being made visible this divine glory, and that it was his own glory, witnessed by the followers among whom he lived and moved. It is their tradition that will be expressed in the Gospel story which follows and celebrated through the year.

Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB

The Christmas Season

The Christmas season runs through until the feast of the Baptism of our Lord (this year on 9th January). It is a time to celebrate not only the actual birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, but his growing up and his preparation for public ministry. The hinge of the season is the feast of Epiphany when three events are commemorated: the visit of the Magi with their precious gifts; the baptism of Our Lord in the River Jordan by John; and the first miracle at Cana, when Jesus changed water into wine at the wedding feast. On each occasion Jesus’ glory is revealed. The Magi went back to their homeland by another way to avoid Herod, but in a deeper sense we say that their lives were completely changed: nothing would be the same again. Because they had seen the Saviour, they went back to their own country as messengers of the Good News. In a similar way the baptism of Our Lord and his first miracle allow the people to see who he really was. At the baptism, the voice from heaven bears witness: “This is my Son, the Beloved: my favour rests on him.” At Cana “he let his glory be seen.”

Fr Terence Richardson OSB, Prior