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For Your Weekend: In the beginning…

Jeannine Yousif

Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read John 1:1–18

Breathe in: You are here with me, God.
Breathe out: And I am here with You.

I think we all need this little 10-second break to take a breath and come into the awareness and presence of Emmanuel, “God with us.”

Amidst the hustle and bustle, the holly and jolly, the (what other seasonal words can I think of that rhyme) mistletoe and snow—our end goal was this day, this birth, this miracle. I pray that your Advent was filled with simplicity, a deepening of your faith, and an extraordinary outpouring of grace. I also pray that if your Advent was more like mine, filled with kids being sick, doctor’s appointments, deadlines, late-night pickups from sports practices and dress rehearsals, and Amazon deliveries gone awry that you will find some time today to allow this Sunday’s gospel to slow you down and to focus on Him, the actual and literal reason for the season. 

This Sunday’s gospel (Christmas Day Mass), from John 1, reads like “a musical overture,”[1] providing a hint of what was to come and be revealed about the person of Jesus Christ—light, life, faith, glory. It reads like a beautiful sonnet with poetic prose and mastery of words. “In the beginning” brings the reader back to the origin of creation, revealing Jesus, the Word of God—the baby we are celebrating, adoring, and honoring today—was always present with the Father, with us, even from the beginning of time. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He was with God at the beginning of creation, and it was “through” Him that all of creation (including man) was made (John 1:1–3).

John is reminding us that it was God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the triune God—who looked down from heaven and because of the great suffering being witnessed, because of the great power that sin and death held on us (their beloved creation), the Word became Incarnate, embodied in a corpus of delicate flesh and blood. It was through the will of the Father that the Son became human and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

In Greek, the phrase “dwelt among us” means Jesus “tabernacled” among us.[2] In the Old Testament, the tabernacle of the Lord God was the “Tent of Meeting” that the Israelites were instructed to create as a space for Him to occupy here on earth, to literally meet Him there. The Tent of Meeting was pitched and taken down along the journey the Israelites took through the desert into the Promised Land. Later, King Solomon constructed the Temple of the Lord, for the Ark of the Covenant and the Spirit of God to dwell here on earth. 

The Son of God’s tabernacle was first in the womb of His mother, Mary, then the manager in Bethlehem, the streets of Nazareth, the roads of Galilee, then the cross on Calvary. And now, through our Baptism, and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are the Lord’s earthly tabernacle, the dwelling place of the divine. 

The will of the Father was for the Son to live among us—no longer far away in a temple or tent, but up close and personal. Jesus occupied these earthly spaces, living, working, and ministering among us in order to be the very image of God the Father, “the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), for us here on earth struggling to stay obedient and faithful. Following His death and resurrection and through the power of the Holy Spirit, He now wishes to abide in us and lavish us with “grace upon grace” (John 1:16) so that we grow ever closer to the Lord through an intimate, loving relationship. Jesus longs to dwell in the tabernacle we have set aside for Him in our hearts. 

How is Jesus’ tabernacle in your heart looking these days? To be honest, mine is a little cluttered. Maybe yours, like mine, needs some extra attention and tender, loving care. Let’s take this Christmas season (not just the one day) to simplify and eliminate the clutter, noise, and stuff taking up room in our hearts. One of my favorite ways to declutter and rid myself of the noise is to head to Mass or adoration. Going straight before Him, on my knees, feels like a breath of fresh air to my often weary and anxious heart. 

Whether you are celebrating Christmas Mass this Sunday or at one of the vigil Masses, I encourage you to pay very special attention to the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer. Allow your eyes, heart, and mind to lift just as the priest lifts the consecrated bread and wine—now the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ—above all that is temporal and earthly. Be present with him as he says these powerful words: “Through Him, with Him, and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever.” At this moment, the priest, standing in the place of our Lord, is preparing your heart and body to be His tabernacle. 

And as you endorse this doxology of our faith by responding, “Amen,” say yes to the surge of grace upon grace that will pour into your heart, washing away the darkness that might be there, the clutter hiding in the shadows. Allow that one word of praise to usher in the light of His presence, preparing Him room. 

The beautiful imagery offered to us by John in this passage lifts my heart, and I pray it will to yours as well, to a high and heavenly place, a place above all of the noise, above all the busy, above all the earthly stuff that this season brings with it. And when our hearts are lifted above, our eyes are drawn there too, to the divine, to the eternal, to Him through which “all things were made,” to Him which brings “life that was the light of men” (John 1:4), to Him that is the “light that shines in the darkness” (John 1:5).

Food for thought or journaling…

What is cluttering your heart these days, that takes your mind, heart, and eyes off Jesus? 

Can I make room in my heart by committing to spending more time alone with Him? Ask Jesus what needs to go in order to make more space for Him and for the freedom, love, and mercy that He desires for you. 

Lord, I desire that You abide in me, in the tabernacle that has been prepared for You in my heart. Through You, I was created, and in You, I find the fullness of my identity. Help me to clear away any clutter that is keeping me from rooting myself firmly in Your love and mercy.
Breathe in: You are here with me, God.
Breathe out: And I am here with You.

[1] Commentary on John 1:1–18, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2010), 161.
[2] Ibid, 162.


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