A Gospel Passage for Writers

The last day of 2011 has arrived, a day that always fills me with two strong feelings that are a bit at odds with each other: regret and gratitude. Regret for what I haven’t done, for dreams or hopes that have died or been delayed. Gratitude for the many, many blessings I’ve received. Even on dark days, gratitude outweighs regret. This year is no exception: as I have been reading through my prayer-journal this past week, I am truly stunned at all that has happened, all of the challenges I have faced (with God’s grace), and all of the blessings that I’ve received.

Last year, I posted about the very special way that we Daughters of St. Paul spend New Year’s Eve. Part of that extended time of adoration I use to prayerfully reflect over the past year’s events and graces. Tonight I will not only be praying over the past year and looking ahead to 2012, but I will also be praying for you, my blog readers, that your New Year may be filled with the graces that you most need and desire. Please feel free to send your prayer intentions below in the comments section.

I often spend my New Year’s Eve praying with today’s Gospel reading (John 1:1-18), which is given to us three times during the Christmas season: once on Christmas Day, today, and the second Sunday of Christmas. “In the beginning was the Word….” This year, there are some profound theological meditations on this passage available online:

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, Part One: The God Who Speaks (#s 6-21 for the readers, #s6-13 for those who want a shorter version).

Father Robert Barron’s audio reflection for Christmas Day.

The written commentary from Sacred Space.

But my brief reflection, instead of being theological, will focus on the reality that John 1:1-18 could be called the Gospel passage for writers. “Word of God” is how the Gospel describes the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. As writers, this is particularly powerful for us. We have a special relationship with words–we think about them, play with them, re-order them, are haunted by them, brood over which one to select, and seek to use them to communicate truth–the truth of our experience, the truth of faith, the truth of life.

This passage of the Gospel is retelling the story of God’s communication with humanity: a communication that is not simply a message, but an experience of creation, redemption, and renewal. It tells us that all of us (in fact, the entire cosmos) are created in the Word of God, and that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word of God, the perfect expression of the Father, becomes flesh for our sake, to bring us life. The most perfect communication possible: the giving of God’s own Self, God’s very Life, to us.

This incredibly brief retelling of God’s communication with humanity–both past and present–becomes a model for us as communicators. The Word of God become flesh is the Way for us as writers to live our baptismal call to “express” or “image” the presence of God in the world.

As loving communicators, we are called to a twofold fidelity: fidelity to our Message (who is God in Christ), and fidelity to those with whom we communicate. If either is lacking, our communication is seriously flawed. Jesus lives that fidelity perfectly: as Word of God, he is the image of the Father. To communicate with us, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity becomes one with us, takes on our humanity.

As writers, we are called to be faithful witnesses to Christ, and to become one with those with whom we communicate. Our filial relationship with God, our sisterhood or brotherhood in Christ shapes all our writing, whether explicitly Christian or not. In some way, all of our writing should build up the human community, opening a space for communion with Christ. And in many cases, we explicitly witness to Christ and point the way towards communion with him.

If you have some thoughts about how Christ is your Way in how you communicate, please share them below.  This is a theme that I will be returning to in future blog posts, but I’d love to turn it into a dialogue.

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