An Eye Witness Tells It All

Thursday in the Octave of Christmas

St. John the Evangelist

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

Dc. Larry Brockman


He was a different sort of person than the other Apostles- younger, and more of a thinker.  His Gospel doesn’t track with the other three Gospels. The stories recorded in it are different and unique, like the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Prodigal Son, and the Woman at the Well.  And his message has a deeper theological content, like the beginning of his Gospel that explores the Trinity, and the sixth chapter that deals with the bread of life.  Today we celebrate his feast, the feast of John the Evangelist.

More than any other of the Gospel writers, John stressed the role of the Incarnation in God’s relationship with us.  John said that God’s love for us was so great that He sent His only begotten son into the world to live as one of us.  That is the Incarnation, one of the great mysteries of our Faith.  And John also emphasized his personal role as an eye witness.  That should be a source of joy to us- an eye witness that personally recorded what happened.  Why, because the Gospel story of Jesus’ life was not just recorded by some folks who heard it second or third hand, but rather, by eye witnesses, people who were involved.

We hear about two such eye witness accounts this morning.  First, in his letter, John brings to us the reality of the Incarnation.  First He says: “What was from the beginning.”  Here he is referring to the fact that Jesus was from the beginning and is God.  Then he says “What we heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of Life”.  Just imagine- this man heard, looked at, and touched the real thing- God almighty in human form.  John is spreading this good and exciting news so that we, too can fellowship with Jesus- that is his avowed purpose, and is something that should bring us joy.

The second eye witness account is of another great mystery of our Faith- the Resurrection.  John was there too.  He witnessed the trial, the crucifixion, and the burial of Jesus personally, together with the stone rolled against the tomb and the Roman Guards so that no predicted Resurrection could be staged.  And yet, what do we hear in the Gospel?  John’s first hand witness to the Resurrection.  Inexplicably, the stone was rolled back, the guards were gone, and the burial cloths- one for the head and one for the body- were separately and neatly rolled up.  As John entered the tomb and saw, he says he believed.  It had all come together for him, all the prophecies he had recorded in his Gospel- the suffering, death, and resurrection on the third day were fulfilled.

We have a choice to believe or not.  We are not eye witnesses, just people who have had the good fortune to hear the stories handed down by the eye witness.  We are challenged to believe, really believe in these two great mysteries- the Incarnation and the Resurrection.  What they mean is everlasting life for those of us who believe.  So believe, rejoice, and live your lives in the Lord.

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