The math teacher drew a diagram of a six-panel window on the front board. “How many rectangles do you see here?” she asked the class. “Six,” they replied in unison. “What about the entire drawing; that’s a rectangle. What about packing two of the neighboring rectangles together?” she continued. As the class explored the diagram, they discovered that there were “eighteen” rectangles hidden in the drawing. There was more to the picture than they thought.
Today the Church picks up the baby Jesus from his crib and asks us “what do you see?” “The baby Jesus,” we reply. “Okay, fasten your seat belts class, there is much more here than you think.”
We celebrate the feast day of St. John, the evangelist. As he grew in his relationship with Jesus, he began to see the amazing “bigger picture” that was hidden in the baby of Bethlehem. Let’s listen to what he says (1 John 1:1-4).
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life—for the life was made visible.”
Hidden inside this tiny little boy was the very “Word of life,” through whom everything that exists came into being. By the miracle of the Incarnation, God made his word so physical, that we can see it, hold it in our hands, and even taste it.
Why did God go to such an extreme to make his infinite Word fit into the tiny box of a manger?
“…so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
Hidden within the newborn Jesus was a power that would make it possible for human beings to have “fellowship” with God—that means an intimate union with God that goes beyond what is experienced in the closest, most loving family. This is the deeper miracle of Christmas! We have fellowship with John and the early Church, and as a result are wrapped up in a union with the Father and Jesus–what humans have hungered for since the beginning of creation.
This amazing revelation began to explode within John the day he saw the empty tomb—Jesus no longer visible (John 20:1-8).
“Then the other disciple (John) also went in (to the empty tomb), the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.”
Do you realize how the Church puts Hollywood to shame? We walk into a theater, sit down and watch the magic of a movie. It begins with a small child running through a field, then it continues to walk us through various stages of the child’s life and watch her grow up. Finally we see the child sitting on a throne as queen of an entire country. All of this takes place in a few short hours. Now watch the Church do it’s “magic.” Within a day we are taken from a pregnant Mary, to a visible baby, to an empty tomb, to a believing disciple, and beyond. Before you know it we are part of movie, sitting around God’s table fellowshiping with his Son, John, Stephen, the Holy Innocents, and Christians of all ages. How does the Church do this? It all starts the day after Christmas in which we see the ultimate power of Christmas take hold of the martyr Stephen when he testifies to Jesus and is lifted into eternal glory.
Isn’t it wonderful how the Church shows us so quickly the bigger picture? John had to wait three years before he began to get a glimpse into the bigger picture. We don’t even have to wait a day!
For those who had the courage to receive Jesus Christ into their lives this Christmas, the power that surged within John, Stephen, and the others is beginning to burst open inside them. The Word is being made flesh in each of us today, if we choose to receive it. New life, new vision, new possibilities, new power to radiate the presence of the “Word of life” in our own worlds. I hope you have your seatbelt securely fastened! The Church is taking us for an unbelievable ride!
“Be glad in the Lord, you just, and give thanks to his holy name” (Ps 97:12).