Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Roller Coaster of Saint John Over Georgia


Reflections on: John 1: 43-51

Six Flags Over Georgia will always be one of my favorite places for a lot of reasons…but there are a couple of those reasons that just really soar above all the others. Most importantly for me, it is the focal point for a bunch of intense, joyous family experiences that encompass three generations. Next on the list…the roller coasters…everything from rickety wooden to sleek steel; and regardless of which one you choose, they all share that orderly chug up that first hill…the top…and then…the rest of that thrilling ride you knew was waiting just over that crest…pure hyperventilation followed by pure breathlessness.

In a sense, John's Gospel is like that ride, and today's reading is the top of that first hill. In the first 51 verses John lays out, in an orderly progression, everything that we need to know to handle the rest of the story: where Jesus came from, who he is, why he came, and what our response should…SHOULD…be. The prologue…those first poetic 18 verses…embrace the mystery of the Incarnation that we are still celebrating today, and the last verse gives us a hint, a heads-up, as to what we will see and experience on the rest of the ride: "No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him."

We immediately meet John the Baptist, who makes it clear that he is the forerunner, crying out in the desert…get ready!! And the next day, John points Jesus out and identifies him as Lamb of God, and the Son of God…stay with me, we're chugging up that hill. The next day, John directs his followers to Jesus, and Jesus asks them the great question of discipleship that we are all asked: "What are you looking for?" And Jesus gives them…and us…the answer: "Come and see." He starts calling the apostles and names Simon "The Rock". Almost there…almost there…almost at the top. And the next day…today…Jesus finds Nathaniel who's a good man at heart, but a little skeptical…a lot like us, actually…and Jesus reads Nathaniel's heart…out loud…and Nathaniel answers for all of us: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." We are right there at the top…hyperventilating…and in that first car, just as it slides over the peak, Jesus puts his hands in the air…straight up in the air…and in that instant before the plunge he looks us all in the eye and says: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." John then starts the breathless trip through Jesus' Ministry, Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection. We all need to take some time in the light of today's reading to consider where we are…where we really are. We are at the top of that hill…we're breathless…we're scared…but he's right there; he knows our hearts…and we ain't seen nothin' yet.  W.W.

See Gospel of John Chapter 1 here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/john