“Even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written”
“Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh,” Ecclesiastes observes, an observation, no doubt, with which many a student would concur. John, too, at the very end of the last chapter of his Gospel reflects on the writing of books; somehow the reality and full meaning of Christ would comprise more books than what the world could contain. There is always something more and more to the meaning of Christ as Word.
The Word proclaimed “at sundry times and in diverse manners … unto the fathers by the prophets”, Hebrews reminds us, “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” That Word and Son is the Word made flesh, as John reminds us in his powerful Prologue read as the great Gospel of Christmas Eve. There is a focus on Word; Word proclaimed, Word made flesh, but also the Word as written “even if the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”
The Feast of John the Evangelist belongs to our Christmas observances. His Epistles and his Gospel provide the strongest testimony to the idea and reality of the Incarnation, the greatest insight into the mystery of God with us in the humanity of Jesus Christ. “That which was from the beginning,” he says, echoing at once the opening words of his Prologue but also the opening words of Genesis, “which we have heard,” he says, “which we have seen with our eyes,” he says, “which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life,” he says, that is what “declare we unto you.” And to what end? “That ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” It is a remarkably concise and stirring theological testament to the Incarnation and the Trinity, to the deeper mystery of Christmas.