Dec 31st: Reflections and Liturgy

*31st December 2019, Tuesday*, Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas
1 John 2:18-21 / John 1:1-18
*Antichrists have appeared: They came from our ranks* 
Renegade Christians were spreading heresy within the early Church. Influenced by Gnosticism (which derived its name from the Greek word for “knowledge”), they preached the doctrine that “knowledge” or faith sufficed for salvation. One’s moral conduct had little or nothing to do with it.
John identifies these teachers as “antichrists,” “enemies of Christ.”
They were people who set themselves up in opposition to Christ (the Messiah) and his teaching. Jesus himself warned about them in Matthew: “False Messiahs and false prophets
will appear ... to deceive even God’s chosen people.” Matthew 24:24
Do we guard against false teachings that are contrary to the Gospel? “If anyone preaches to you a gospel that is different from the one you accepted, may he be condemned to hell!” Galatians i:9
Today being the last day of the year, it is also a unique time when we look in two differing directions. Yes, we look forward to the new year ahead, with its "joys and hopes," as well as its "griefs and anxieties" (Pastoral Constitution On The Church In The Modern World, Gaudium Et Spes Promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul Vi on December 7, 1965).

Yes, the future is uncertain and unpredictable, but that is what the mystery of life is all about. On the other hand, we also look back on the 365 days that had passed, for some it was quickly, for others it was slowly, but in whatever case, it has gone down to memory and for our recollection and reflection.

For better or for worse, be it good times or bad, the gospel takes our recollection and reflection to "In the beginning was the Word..." And that is to tell us that the Word of God was made flesh everyday of 2019, from the 1st January to today. The question is: Did we recognize Him and accepted Him into our lives? Or is it like what the gospel said: He came to His own domain, and His own people did not accept Him.

The 1st reading begins with an opposite time when it says that "these are the last days", and it is described as a rather turbulent time, with the appearance of several antichrists, arising from within the church. But as it says of these antichrists, they had never really belonged and now they had become enemies of the Church.

So as we come to the last day of the year, let us acknowledge the presence of Jesus, the Word made flesh, and let us welcome Him into our lives. Let us pledge to belong to Him so that He will be present to us all the days of the new year ahead.


Today, the liturgy fits in very well with the celebration of New Year’s Eve: it both looks forward to the end of time (1st Reading) and back to the beginning: to the Word that created all and came among people as the living Word, Jesus, to make a new beginning with us. And that’s life: the end of what is past, a new beginning to be made ever anew. It was mixture of joys shared together and miseries that were lighter when they too were borne together. And a time for which we are grateful to one another and to God. A turning point is also a time of hope. The past is gone; we look forward. We say goodbye and we welcome what is coming with hope, for the Lord is with us; we resume our journey together as God’s pilgrim people.

*Opening Prayer*
Loving Father,
You gave us your Son, Jesus Christ,
and let him share our poverty.
He brought us grace upon grace,
for all that comes from you is a free gift.
Accept our thanks for the moments
when we accepted your gifts
and shared them with one another.
Accept our thanks for the times
we listened attentively to your Son’s words
and put them into practice.
Help us go forward with hope and joy
with joy and mutual encouragement.
with the companion in life you have given us,
Jesus Christ, our Lord.

In gratitude to our generous Father for all his blessings and graces received in the past year, we pray:
– For all those with whom we are united in one common friendship and concern, that he may keep us all in his love, we pray:
– For all whom we have disappointed in the past, for those whom we have hurt or neglected, and for those who have pained and irritated us, we pray:
– For those who have lost someone dear to them, that their hope in Christ may give them strength; for those who have died this year, that they may live in the Lord’s peace, we pray:
– And for all of us here, that we may be grateful for life, for all the joys we have experienced, and for one another, we pray:
God, let your Son speak his word among us and live among us, now and forever.

*Prayer over the Gifts*
Loving Father,
it is easy for us here to break this bread
and to share it with one another,
to drink this cup and offer it to one another.
As we offer you these gifts,
we pray to you for strength,
for it is difficult for us the whole year long,
to keep sharing ourselves with one another
to offer our hand to give and receive help
and to forget ourselves for the sake of others.
Let us always be each other’s food and drink
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

*Prayer after Communion*
God, our Father,
in this celebration, we have looked back
to the past, to what is done and gone.
With Jesus in our midst,
we look now forward to the future.
Let neither the past or the present, nor the future,
neither joys nor sorrows
ever separate us from him.
Let you Son be the center of our lives
and the bond that binds us to you
and to one another,
in faith, hope and lasting love.
Go with us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Let us go in the peace of the Lord. May the Lord be with you wherever you go. May he bless your coming and your going, your work and your care, your joys and your suffering. As he blessed you the past year, may he bless you even more in the new year: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The prologue to John’s Gospel, read at today’s Mass, offers four points for our reflection. First, it highlights the eternity of Jesus Christ. In fact he is actually called God, an unusual designation in the New Testament since “God” was initially seen as applying only to Yahweh. In his eternal Godhead, Jesus is present with the Father in the whole process of creation. In fact, as God’s wisdom, he is the blueprint that guides the whole creative process.
Second, Jesus enters the world as the life giver; he confers the Spirit, described variously in John’s Gospel as light, life, or water. It is the Spirit that lifts humans to a whole new plateau of existence; it is life in God. If the law given to Moses was a gift, the life of the Spirit is called simply “grace and truth.”
Third, Jesus came in the flesh. Contrary to some of the thinking within the early Johannine community, he was not simply an apparition or vision. To those who looked with disdain on anything human or material (perhaps those identified with the antichrists of today’s epistle), there was only one response. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). He was man in the full sense of the term.
Finally, John the Baptist was not the light, as some may have suggested. He had a clearly subordinate role as the forerunner, the one who prepared the way of the Lord. There is some New Testament evidence for a strong advocacy of John’s baptism, perhaps because Christ himself had received it. The Gospel of John, however, is clearly interested in setting the record straight.
While John is rich in its very positive approach, it has a very distinctive apologetic. It wants to uphold the eternity of Christ while never losing sight of his humanity. He is the savior and life giver in a way that far outdistances anyone from Moses to John the Baptist. When we consider all that the term “Jesus Christ” connotes, it is not surprising that there were some failures in articulating the Lord and his mission adequately in the early years of the church’s life. But error often leads to gain—in this case, a clearer expression of belief. The prologue to John’s Gospel, even with its soaring beauty, serves a very practical purpose.

*Points to Ponder*
Jesus the eternal Word Jesus as true man
The subordination of the Baptist
The gift of Spirit life.