Students’ Inputs

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth… the new Jerusalem…” [Revelation 21, 1-2]

New Jerusalem

It is not uncommon to any human being, normal human being for that matter, to be afraid of the so-called “unknown.” The unknown is always daunting, and we find ourselves shivering in discomfort (or fear) if we are being thrust into unfamiliar turfs, unusual circumstances, and totally new company of persons. In other words, it is normal for us to fear “uncharted waters.” This being intricately woven into our human psyche, it is obvious why “doomsday” tales and end of the world predictions do sell among us. Anyway, who is not afraid of the “end” of the world, the manner of which is totally unknown to us?

It is unfortunate that the Book of Revelation, the last book of our canon of Sacred Scriptures, is read in this light. Does this book really foretell the “end,” which it depicts as “very near?” Not so. It is incorrect to see this book as a “prediction” of sorts to how the world, the entire cosmos will come to its end. Is instilling fear in our hearts the intent of this book? The contrary is true. The Book of Revelation speaks of hope and trust in the midst of chaos and despair. It is my proposal then that the Book of Revelation vis-a-vis its message can be seen two-fold.

The first is its exhortation. Chapters 2 – 3 of the Book of Revelation speaks of Christ’s message to the seven Churches of Asia. Robert H. Smith writes in his commentary “Apocalypse” that the seven messages contain praise and blame, threat and promise, in which the basic values of Christ (the glorified Jesus) are revealed. He goes on that various churches (or ecclesial communities) are blamed for abandoning their first love, for complacency, for tolerating false prophets, for lukewarmness. Some of these churches (particularly Smyrna and Philadelphia) are praised in so far as they exhibit any sign of fidelity, patient endurance, or intolerance toward evildoers and false teachers. It is in this light that we can see the “real” message of the book. The book, for us in contemporary times, is intended to remind us of our Christian faith – the implications it has in our living in the world and the consequences that we have to bear and endure. This book then exhorts us to be faithful and to be blameless at all costs till the very end.

The second is manifestation. Chapters 4 – 22 speak of the various visions that John saw – the seven seals and the consequences of the breaking of the seals; the seven angels and the blowing of the seven trumpets; the woman, the dragon and the beasts; the seven angels of judgment; and the seven bowls of wrath. It is surely daunting reading these chapters that speak of cosmic catastrophies and the inevitable judgment of God. Yet, that is not the real point of the story. Commentators would opine that these cosmic disturbances and plagues speak that God is still in control in this world. These catastrophies manifest God’s involvement in the course of history, showing his power and might. Yet I wish to direct our attention to two texts that speak of measuring rods and the act of measuring. John sees and converses with an angel bearing a measuring rod in Chapters 11, 1-2 and 21, 15.

angelrod

In Chapter 11, the angel asked John to measure the temple, the altar, and the worshipers inside. In Chapter 21, the angel will measure the city (the new Jerusalem) and its gates and walls. Commentators Leon Morris and Robert Smith write that the act of measuring implies “protection.” It therefore denotes that the worshipers of God and the Lamb, and those who endure till the end and now lives in the new City, enjoy the protection of God. I believe it is in this lens that the Book of Revelation can be accurately read. Yes, the cosmic disturbances and catastrophies mentioned are daunting and nerve-wrecking. Yet, those are directed to the followers of the dragon and the beasts. But for those who faithfully follow and worship God and the Lamb, they enjoy God’s ultimate protection albeit they suffered tremendously and gave up their lives for the Faith. God is in control. God will protect his people.

Lastly, in this world full of fears and uncertainties, the Book of Revelation offers hope and trust in God. The Liturgical Year (Year II) ends with the reading from the Book of Revelation (Ch 22, 1-7). The Church reminds us constantly that the “end” is not something to be abhorred. The end is something that should be welcomed in the spirit of faith and hope. In the end, the glory of God and the Lamb will pervade all aspects of human and cosmic realities – all is new, and in the words of Leon Morris in his commentary, “new” describes a complete transformation of things. All will be one in God. God will dwell with His people and there will be no more sadness,  no more fears of danger, no more tears. All is in God.

And so, may we read the book of Revelation with a new eyes, the eyes of faith, hope, and love. May we look forward to the coming of Jesus with faith, hope and love, and with John in the Book give our resounding “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” [R.J. Orbeta]

 

Baptism and the “Charismatics”’ Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

Using the lens of Gospel of John and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

In my earlier post (What does it mean to be born again?), I mentioned about the Outpouring of the Spirit or what is commonly called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as part of the initiation process among members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement.  This ritual puts into question the sufficiency of the two Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism and Confirmation especially among non-Charismatic members of the Church especially if we understand the Holy Spirit using the Gospel of John.

In John 1:33, John the Baptist alludes to Jesus as the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.  In the seventh chapter, the gospel writer explains Jesus’ promise of the streams of living water, meaning the Spirit will only be received once Jesus is glorified (v. 39).  The Last Supper Discourse reiterates this promise.  In John 15, Jesus promises the Counsellor, the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father and will testify about the Son.  Chapter 16 further adds that this Counsellor will come once Jesus goes away.  Only in John 20:22 that Jesus will breathe the Spirit on the disciples and say “Receive the Holy Spirit….”  Yet, prior to this encounter, Jesus tells Mary Magdalene that He has not yet ascended to the Father but he is returning very soon (Jn 20:17).  Contrary to our traditional understanding of difference in time of the post burial events of Jesus’ life (Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost) which we must have taken from the Lucan narrative, “resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Spirit take place on one and the same Easter Sunday” in the Gospel of John  (Bruce Vauter, The Jerome Biblical Commentary 63:177, p.464).  We very well know that the Gospels are not primarily historical books; rather they are books that speak of theological truths.  The more important thing that the author of the Gospel of John wants to point is the reality of “the intimate connection of the resurrection with the animation of the Church by the Spirit that has always been reflected in the liturgy and teaching of the Church.”  We can say, therefore, that in the Gospel of John, the disciples receive the Spirit in his entirety and dwells in them as an effect of Christ’s Paschal Mystery after being baptized with water (CCC 720 calls this the baptism of repentance).  Because the Spirit dwells in us, he becomes the intimate source of internal Truth, reveals and reminds the disciples of what Jesus taught them (Jn. 15:26, 16:13-15).

We who have come later than the disciples receive the Holy Spirit during our Baptism, “the gateway to the life in the Spirit” (CCC 1213).  What happens in Confirmation is the “completion of baptismal grace”—when one is “perfectly bound to the Church and enriched with the special strength of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1285).  These two Sacraments used to be performed simultaneously together with Eucharist as part of the Sacraments of Initiation among adult converts during the first centuries.  The rise of infant baptism and the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism by the anointing of Chrism oil to the Bishop prompted the Roman Catholic Church to separate the two Sacraments (CCC 1290).

What then does this make of the Charismatic members’ Outpouring of the Spirit?  First, it is evident that the outpouring is a ritualization of the Pentecost event in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1ff), a chapter after Jesus’ ascension.  This is problematic if we read John’s Gospel with a Lucan paradigm.  Second, the outpouring does not replace the two Sacraments but encourages and enhances the actualization of the presence of the Spirit we received in Baptism and strengthened in Confirmation.  During the Outpouring of the Spirit, members of the Charismatic renewal prays over the new members and intercedes for them that they may practice the gifts (charis, enumerated in 1 Cor. 12:7-11) that they received and strengthened through the Sacraments.  What the members of the renewal do is bring these gifts to realization in a more deliberate way than most Catholics do.  And in the process, they become more attuned to the Spirit in their lives as promised by Jesus in Jn 15 and 16.  Is this the only means of realizing the gifts?  Certainly not.  John 3:34 says, “…for God gives the Spirit without limit.”  Our Church is rich enough to accommodate various expressions of spirituality that when taken as a whole forms the one body of Christ. (AF Flores, SJ)

What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?

A young man in his twenties approached me while crossing EDSA and asked, “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?”  I ignored him and continued walking fast.  He ran after me and called out “Brother, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and be born again.”  I stopped, turned back and said, “Thank you.  I am born and baptized a Catholic.  And I will remain one.  Thank you for your concern.”  And I went my way.

I am reminded of this incident after more than a decade later while reflecting on the Nicodemus episode in John 3.  It seems that the young man I encountered that being born again and accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior mean the same thing.  Most fundamentalist Christians believe in this.  How do we Catholics understand Jesus’s words when he replied to Nicodemus “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again? (Jn. 3:3)”

The Nicodemus episode (which I believe is the basis for our fundamentalist brothers’ and sisters’ claim of being born again) in John 3:1-21 tells us three important points.  One, the word that follows born in Greek is anōthen.  This can mean either “again” or “from above” (Brian Grenier’s St. John’s Gospel: A Self–Directed Retreat, 84).  Sandra Schneiders in her article in Theology Today entitled “Born Anew” proposes that the misunderstanding in Johannine interpretation comes not from a failure to understand the actual words but on misplaced literalness in interpretation.  She suggests using the word “anew” to refer to anōthen in order to avoid implying a second time.  Using this new term would make better sense in understanding what Jesus said upon read further the pericope.  In Jn 3:5, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”  Using logic, we can assume that what Jesus means by being born anōthen is to be born, not again, but of water and spirit.  This is obviously an allusion to the Christian baptism, which is my second point.

Two, Jesus alludes to baptism in this verse.  The Johannine community must have understood it easily for two reasons.  First, the baptism of Jesus episode in the first chapter, more specifically in verses 32-33 speaks of baptism in water and Spirit.  Second, the main activity in the succeeding verses after the Jesus-Nicodemus conversation.  In Jn3:22, Jesus went into the Judean countryside where he spent time with the residents and baptized.  John baptizing at Aenon is in the next verse.  This even came to a point that John’s followers raised it to John in verse 26.  “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”  In a sense, being born anew is experiencing rebirth.  And our baptism into the Christian world is a rebirth—death to sin and life in Jesus Christ.  Jesus died for us so that we may have life in Him through baptism.

Three, there is a need to nuance the expression “to be born again is to accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior” because we may assume that it is entirely through our effort of accepting Jesus that we are born anew.  We are born anew because Jesus Christ died for us and took His life again so that we too may have life in Him in baptism through the Spirit (Jn 3:16-18).  The initiative is God’s.  We merely respond, that is, by grace.  By taking note of this, we recognize God’s power even in our conversion and response for “the Spirit blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (Jn3:8).

Yet, our fundamentalist brothers and sisters are doing something worthy of emulation.  When the fearful disciples received the Holy Spirit during the Pentecost, they began speaking about Jesus Christ boldly.  They preached in words and deeds that even caused them their lives.  That Spirit they received is the same Spirit we receive in baptism and affirm in confirmation.  However, do we experience and embody that same passion that the disciples and our fundamentalist brethren possess?

A year after the encounter with the young man in EDSA, I underwent the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as part of the initiation process of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal or what other people call the Catholic Pentecostals.  I then found myself speaking randomly to mall goers in Alabang Town Center to invite them to our prayer meeting.  I must admit.  It was the most shamefully difficult thing to do.  More than the struggle of daring to talk to struggle about Jesus (hard selling does not often work especially with the newer generation), I realize the importance of making my life more reflective of the Spirit’s presence as every baptized Christian should, regardless of denomination.  After all, is this not what it means to be born again, I mean, to be born anew?  (AF Flores, SJ)

OF METEOR, DOOMSDAY AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION

The recent news about the meteor explosion in Russia coupled with the various natural calamities of catastrophic proportions that the world experienced over the last few years, triggers doomsday talks once more.  In the eighties, talk of three days of darkness went around sending people into panic buying.  During the nineties, the appearance of a giant sunfish propelled people in Southern Philippines to post the saying, “Fear the Lord, Love the Lord” outside their homes, in the hope of being spared from the “impending catastrophe.”  The turn of the millennium and its accompanying electronic bug did not escape the scrutiny of doomsday soothsayers.  Just a few months ago, the world frenzied over the purportedly 20 December 2012 end of the world Mayan prediction.

Dragging the poetic work of Nostradamus, a sixteenth century apothecary and seer who published the book “The Prophecies,” has become a common recourse to substantiate claims of the apparent doomsday.  The book of Revelation is not exempt.  Here, doomsday advocates feast on the events in the book to justify the claims of an impending Armageddon.  Does the Book of Revelation really provide a graphic and straightforward description of the end times?  On the contrary.

It is important for Christians to understand what this book intends to tell us before believing these doomsday prophets hook, line and sinker.  Also named Apocalypse because of its literary genre, Revelation combines prophecy, letters of encouragement and reminder to the seven Churches and the apocalypse.  An apocalypse is a literary form that reveals the visual and auditory supernatural experience of individuals transported to another space and time beyond our own world.  In the case of Revelation, Jesus gave the author John, who was exiled in Patmos, visions, himself.

Before plunging into frenzy over the visions of John, we ought to read and understand the book using a theological lens.  This means understanding the first century Christian Church’s struggles amid the Roman persecutions, her experience of God and the principles that can be deduced from such experience.  At this point, recall the persecution of the early Christians.  They are persecuted not because they were unfaithful but because they held firm to their belief in Jesus Christ.  Seemingly, the God of Jesus Christ, to whom they have staked their lives, is not in control.  God’s divine plan will see the faithful through.  Amid the Roman persecution and the abandonment of the faith of some believers, John encourages the believers to continue keeping the faith.  He tells the readers albeit in a codified way that God remains in control of human history.

The first part of the book exhorts the seven Churches of Asia Minor to persevere in the faith.  The next part speaks of the visions that do not deny persecution and penultimate victory of the enemy.  However, at the end of it all, love wins.  The good claims victory.  God prevails.  He is in control and will always be in control.  Our Church has seen all these persecutions since time immemorial yet she continues to stand.  She has been “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4, 8-9).

The persecutors of the Church, including the doomsday advocates, had come, won for a time and are now gone.  Yet, the Church has remained.  And Revelation will continue to remind and assure us that God is in control, no matter what.  (AF Flores,SJ)

When Juan Meets The One through John: Reflections on the the Filipino Faith and the Prologue of 1 John

Juan (a name that is often used to refer to the common Filipino) prefers low Christology to John’s high Christology like in his Gospel and the Johannine epistles. Traditionally, Juan has difficulty grasping and relating to The One—the abstract, metaphysical God, which our theology is heavily based on. God, for Juan, can best be understood and related to using concrete, tangible and at the very least, poetic or metaphorical language, if he has to articulate something intangible.
In fact, one will never find a proof of the existence of God among the Filipino Catholics’ rich spiritual heritage. Since God is palpably felt and experienced by Juan, there is no need to try to rationalize by logic God’s existence. A number of Filipino sociologists agree in concluding that Juan tends to think of the concrete rather than the abstract, personal rather than general, inductive rather than deductive and imprecise rather than strict and structured. Juan considers God not as an idea but as a personal reality – a reality that is a confluence of the sacred and the profane. (Tesoro)
This absence of proof, however, does not automatically mean that Juan’s faith is illogical. “Strong but unsystematic” (Tesoro) it may be but it has its sound bases. One has to enter into the Filipino psyche to understand better the bases that Juan’s faith is anchored. This does not also mean that it no longer needs Western Philosophy’s framework of the logical proof of God. Tesoro aptly concludes the necessity of logic in faith when he said, “Logic may not be the cause of faith, but faith in order to be firm must be expressed in a coherent way. One who reflects philosophically upon cherished beliefs can express and defend them more or less through rational argument.”
Juan places his stake, his “personal act of loyalty involving one’s entire self” to God. It is not merely “an intellectual assent to impersonal religious truth.” (Mercado) Juan’s faith is based on intuition rather than mere reason. More than the elaboration of syllogisms and categories, Juan opts to engage God personally. This approach consistently expresses the inseparability of the sacred from the profane, the divine from the human and formality from spontaneity. Juan’s pananampalataya, more than an “articulation of detailed belief”, is “a fundamental disposition and orientation involving trust and loyalty.” (Tesoro)
Among the many Filipino images of God in popular devotion, the Black Nazarene is one of the more popular icons. This image of God in Jesus Christ is portrayed as the suffering, fallen Jesus carrying his cross. One may argue that its popularity could have been culturally conditioned by Spanish colonizers centuries ago in order to promote subservience among the natives. There could be some truth to it but socio-anthropological studies also show that such devotion expresses “the centuries-old faith of the people in a personal God who suffered and died out of a loving concern, in a Risen Savior who promises them final victory.” (Gorospe)
Juan can certainly encounter The One because the Prologue of the John’s First Letter already contain to critical pre-requisites for possible encounter: (1) From something abstract, John goes down and talk about The One in terms of experience—a personal and inductive articulation about The One. (2) John speaks of the importance of fellowship or relations, which Juan is naturally inclined to do given his propensity to give his entirety to those he engages.
Juan’s experience of God only finds resonance when the author of the First Letter of John brings down “That which was from the beginning” and begins to talk about The One in terms of his sensual experience with Jesus—“which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched… (1Jn1:1).” In the third verse, John expresses his intention “to have fellowship” with Juan. As consequence, Juan will also be able to share in John’s fellowship with the Father and the Son. (AF Flores, SJ)

References: Tesoro/Jose, “Rise of Filipino Theology”; Mercado, “Elements of Filipino Theology”; Gorospe, “Filipino Values Revisited”

In Christo

When one reads the First letter of John, one is amazed at how interwoven Christology (or faith) with Ethics (or conduct of life) is. Author Charles Talbert in his book “Reading John” succinctly writes that the Johannine Epistle’s author’s exposition alternates between ethical (1:6-2:17; 2:29-3:24a; 4:7-12; 4:16b-5:4a) and Christological exposition (2:18-28; 3:24b-4:6; 4:13-16a; 5:4b-12) [cf. p.18]. If one examines the outline provided by the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), one sees that much emphasis is placed on “behavior” as Children of God and being in the Light. The NJB provides two major outlines:

I. To Walk in the Light

First Condition: To break with Sin (1:8-2:2)

Second Condition: To keep the commandments especially that of Love (2:3- 11)

Third Condition: Detachment from the world (2:12-17)

Fourth Condition: To be on guard against Antichrists (2:18-28)

II. To Live as Children of God

First Condition: To break with Sin (3:3-10)

Second Condition: To keep the commandments especially that of Love (3:11-24)

Third Condition: To be on guard against Antichrists (2:18-28)

Looking at these outlines, one already sees the necessity of “behavior” or conduct as being dictated upon by one’s identity. This is somehow similar to St. Paul’s “In Christ” clause, that since one is in Christ, one is already a new man living a new life, pursuing a new vision and project which is ultimately under the banner of Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

In sum, to read the First Letter of John is to be reminded once again that what we profess (Faith) must be consistent with what we practice (conduct). This is very important and significant in our post-modern times wherein everything seems to be relative – nothing is absolute, all can be subjected to one’s judgment. For us Christians, taking our cue from the First Letter of John (and the Pauline epistles as well), our way of life must be guided by our identity – “In Christ”; as Children of God and of the Light.

Let us therefore strive to live our faith in Jesus. May our faith in Him (and in the Triune God) affect our lives and and in the process, effect change in the world. As our Pauline Letters professor would put it, let our “Identity dictate our behavior.” [R.J. Orbeta]

jesus-heals-blind-man

“… those who hear will live.” (John 5, 25)

I have personally found the entire Chapter Five of the Fourth Gospel very relevant for this year’s celebration of the Annus Fidei. The pericope is introduced by a healing of a lame man and then the remaining parts of the Chapter seems to be a “monologue” of Jesus, a sort of exegesis of who sent him (the Father), and in effect, of himself as well.

Perhaps, the message of this Chapter or pericope is threefold:
1. God in Jesus is very sensitive to our needs/pains. God in Jesus reaches out to us in the midst of our pain and offers us healing/wholeness. When Jesus saw the lame man he asked him if he wanted to be healed. The lame man, as if due to sheer desperation and total resignation to his condition, did not respond in the positive to Jesus’ question. He gave a sort of an explanation. But as Bultmann writes in his commentary on the Fourth Gospel, it was Jesus who seizes the initiative and in reply to the sick man’s answer he pronounces the miraculous word (cf. p.242).

2. Jesus reveals to us who God is and what God wants for us. The Jews were depicted as “chastising” the man for walking around carrying his mat. The Jews failed to recognize the “mirabilia Dei” unfolding right under their noses since they were preoccupied with the prescriptions of the Sabbath Law. What is worse, the Jews failed to understand Jesus’ “exegesis” of God through his speech and in a manner, persisted in their unbelief. They took offense against Jesus and his claim/exegesis that He is the Son of God, hence, equal to God. Bultmann states further that “one thing, however, they (the Jews) do not understand, namely that Jesus’ Sonship, and his claim to be equal to God and to work like God, only makes sense in that Jesus, as the Son and as the one who works like the Father, reveals God, and that precisely because he is the Revealer he must make the claim which sounds so blasphemous to their ears. They can only conceive equality with God as independence from God, whereas for Jesus it means the very opposite, as is brought immediately in v.19” (p.244-245). The invitation therefore is to open up one’s entire being to God and His revelation in Jesus. In a manner, it is an invitation to see in Jesus and his works the “unfolding” of the Reign of God in their midst. As very apparent in Jesus’ “speech,” God is offering eternal life and salvation to all people. All we need is faith.

3. Jesus invites us (men and women of contemporary times) to deeper faith. Jesus claims that his testimony (or speech) is true due to the presence of witnesses. Charles H. Talbert in his book “Reading John” offers four witnesses of Jesus. These are, (1) John the Baptizer [vv. 33-35]; (2) the testimony of the “Johannine Jesus” as appealed in v. 36; (3) The Father [vv. 37-38]; and (4) the Scriptures / Moses [vv. 39-47] (pp. 127-129). These “testimonies” therefore warrant assent and faith in Jesus’ words.
In a nutshell, I think this chapter invites all of us (readers) to deeper faith in Jesus. And this faith is both a response and a relationship. Faith is seen as a response to the “exegesis” of Jesus. He reveals to us the Father in as much as he reveals to us who he is. Faith then as a relationship between us and this person who reveals to us God and who continues to work in our lives countless “mirabila Dei.” (R.J. Orbeta)

The Prologue of John: God’s Faithfulness and Love

Bro. Dennis A. Batucan, MJImage

The prologue describes to us the intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father. The Son is the concrete manifestation of the Father’s nature and image as “Life, True Light, Full of Grace and Truth, and Eternal.” Moreover, the prologue invites us to reflect on our faith journey in responding to the call Jesus – the true light. Hence, the prologue invites us to become like John in bearing witness to the light.

Why John does introduce/begin his gospel in such manner? I personally thought of four reasons: 1) the prologue illustrates to us the main themes of the gospel such as the Logos, Life, Light, Grace and Truth, 2) the prologue illustrates to us that Jesus has divine origin, He is not just a human by nature but Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God, 3) the prologue illustrates to us the intimate relationship of Jesus to the Father – the entire ministry of Jesus was marked by the presence of God. God is Jesus’ witness in his ministry. 4) the prologue elucidate that God is a faithful and loving God. He concretized His love and faithfulness to us by giving His only Son born in flesh but divine by nature and origin.

What does John1:14a tell the message about? (Sr. Che)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John1:14a). This verse reminds me to rethink about the manifestation of God in the OT where it is about the “Shekinah”, “to dwell in a tent”, “God’s presence with his people”. A God like a traveler who is always a stranger to this earth, He is totally the otherness like the burning bush which Moses had seen. But He was the one who always accompany and guiding with his people Israel on the way to the Promised Land.

The Word of God in OT it also manifested the mighty deeds of God where the Word and action of God always go together, when “God said ‘Let there be light’, and then there was light” (Gn1:6), our God is a God who says and performance surely. God’s love and fidelity to his people where it manifest his trustworthy character as Exodus reveals us, He is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding steadfast love and faithfulness (34:6).

In Matthew (the Logos) His name is “Immanuel”, in John is the “Word”, and John said “in the beginning” there he was, and the Word became flesh dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.”

We believe the Creatio per Verbum, we also believe further the Creatio ex nihilo (God’s creative activity) is true (ND19), and we surely believe the creatio continua totally is on going through the Word of God, the incarnation.

What does John1:14a tell the message about? The fidelity of God which leads us persistently continually to belief, and the Word of God (the incarnation of Christ) will continuously in guiding and accompany with us on this journey in the process of our creatio continua (to His Father).

who is this John?

JOHN DOE
by Ernald M. Andal, SJ
John Doe is the usual name used to identify any typical man who could not be identified with certainty. We hear it in legal proceedings for both victims and suspects whose real identity is withheld for one reason or the other.  We also hear it commonly used in news reporting when the correspondent is unsure of the actual names of the personages involved in his report.
It’s so tempting then to speak of the writer of the 4th Gospel as another John Doe—someone who could just be any other John.  No longer can one easily hold on to the tradition that this remarkable evangelist is none other than the “aging Apostle John.” Indeed, recent scholarship on the 4th Gospel would speak of various theories on who the real author is: Some would propose that it is simply a pseudepigraphal work;  H. Delf says he is ‘John of Jerusalem’ because of his remarkable access to the High Priest’s house; other Biblical scholars would also argue that it could be ‘John Mark’, the very same author of the Gospel according to Mark; he could also be ‘John the Elder’ as some followers Papias’ conjectures would propose; and finally this evangelist could even be ‘Lazarus’, the dear friend of Jesus.
Scholarship on the 4th Gospel’s author has not come to a conclusive end to this quandary. Each scholar can argue his/her point well, and yet each would have to admit to certain limitations to their own theories.  And so, do we readers of today simply settle for a John Doe as our Evangelist par excellence?
To settle as if we have given up and surrendered the search is a bit too harsh a term.  What is consoling, however, is that whoever he (she/they) may be; this inspired author has found a way not to make our Savior, anonymous to us.  He has found a way to introduce to us the Incarnate Word who is our Good Shepherd, who is the Light of the World, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He has found a way for us to know Jesus and to grow in intimacy with Him who is the only begotten Son of God, Jesus who is our Resurrection and our Life.

Whoever this John really is, we thank God for him endlessly, for in his obscurity, he has made our Salvation known.  In the end, this John can speak honestly of what his namesake has succinctly declared before the Messiah, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

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