Immersed in Christ: December 30, 2020
The Sixth Day of Christmas
1John 2: 12-17 the Apostle addresses as “little children” all whose: “sins have been forgiven,” who “have known the Father.” But he goes on to distinguish between the “fathers” and “the young” to “emphasize that his appeal extends to the entire Christian community” with its diverse needs, gifts and viewpoints. 1
Community, the “common unity” of Christian koinonia, requires diversity. John says the faith of the “fathers,” whose age makes them keenly aware of the transitory nature of life, appears in their confident hope. Because they know that the one who is giving us our existence is “from the beginning,” they know his existence is not contingent like ours, but is Being Itself. We creatures live and act by the ongoing gift and power of the infinite God. We who share in his divine life will live forever. The old, especially attuned to this, live with an eye on the “end times.”
What is most visible in “the young,” who live in the present as if they were immortal, is that they are “strong.” They show their faith in fighting against shortsighted attraction to what this present life offers: “carnal allurements, enticements for the eye, the life of empty show.” John says: “The word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one.” They witness by winning, The strength of their prophetic witness comes from discipleship: the study of the mind and heart of God as revealed in his word.
In the Church, the body of Christ, “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit....
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.” In the harmony of gifts shared and recognized we experience koinonia.
Ignatius of Antioch wrote on his way to martyrdom that we should all be “attuned to the bishop as strings to a harp. So in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ.” Koinonia is harmony. But harmony implies by definition that all are not singing the same note. So koinonia demands sharing, modifying and harmonizing different points of view, different appreciations of value. We experience “communion in the Holy Spirit” in dialogue and “collaborative ministry.” When this happens, “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice.”2
Luke 2: 36-40 gives us Anna’s prophesy, but it adds no content to what Simeon said. So why report it? The answer is that “prophesying” is important in itself, regardless of content.
The root meaning of “prophet” is “one who speaks before others,” usually to “communicate divine revelation.” Every Christian is anointed in Baptism to “prophesy,” communicate God’s truth.
Everyone present at Mass should express the truth they see, the good they rejoice in. Paul says “those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” They “build up the church.” A silent congregation at Mass is the sign of a stagnant parish.3
We need to reveal God’s life in us by singing, responding, body language that shows faith and enthusiasm. Then “the heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice.” This is koinonia.
Initiative: See silence at Mass as infidelity. Sing, respond, express your joy.
1 Jerome Biblical Commentary. 2 St. Ignatius' Letter to the Ephesians is read in the Office of Readings for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. See Vatican II decrees on the Church, no. 13, Bishops, nos. 28-30, and Priests, no. 9. 3 McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible; Leon-Dufour, Dict. of the New Testament; 1Corinthians 14:1-40.