On this feast of Saint John, let’s now read the first four verses of his first letter (1 John 1:1-4).
We will examine the community that gathered around him which has been called the Johannine community. Their special experience of the Lord and Christian living is captured for us in this reading. They probably lived in present day Turkey (Ephesus). It was a “rainbow” community composed of Jewish Christian, former followers of John the Baptist, some Samaritans and Gentiles.
Their memories of the synagogues from which they had been expelled were bitter, hence their references to the “Jews”; their persecution by pagan governments scarred them, hence their references to the “world”. Finally, they were wounded by internal dissension that broke out into open schism.
This was the occasion for the letter of John. It is really a reflection on the experience of the Lord through a community tradition.
In today’s reading, John states that “we proclaim what we have seen, hard, touched and experienced” from the beginning. It was an apostolic experience which was proclaimed so that through hearing that Word later generations might have contact with the Lord.
When we hand on a tradition, we are doing a great deal more than passing on facts about Jesus. We transmit their significance as well. Tradition is more than giving a crucifix to a child. It is taking the time to explain the meaning of the cross.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, God the Almighty, who through Your apostle John unlocked for us the hidden treasures of Your Word, grant that we may grasp with fuller understanding the message he so admirably proclaimed. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 27 December 2018
A Christian Pilgrim