In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1)
Mark begins his Gospel with the baptism of Jesus. The opening sentence is high treason—this is the Good News of Jesus the Christ not the “good news” of the divine emperor Caesar. Matthew and Luke fabricate infancy narratives to show how the Christ fulfills the expectation of the Hebrew Scriptures. John goes back beyond the birth of the Christ to show that the Christ was preexistent with the Living One from before the dawn of creation.
John speaks of the Christ in poetic terms because prose is not able to capture the ineffable mystery of God. The Christ is Word, Light and Life.
The Christ is the Word uttered by the Living One as creation is breathed forth. The Christ hovers over creation much like the Ruah YHWH hovered over the primordial soup and brought order, life and light out of chaos. The Spirit of the Risen Christ is the very breath of God. Neil Douglas-Klotz in The Hidden Gospel, transliterates John 4:24 from the Syrian Aramaic text:
God is breath.
All that breathes resides in the Only Being.
From my breath
To the air we share
To the wind that blows around the planet:
Sacred Unity inspires all. (41)
Note the ending—Sacred Unity inspires all. The Living One, The One, breathes forth life, life we all share. How wonderful to realize that when we inhale, breath in, we are breathing in the very breath of the Living One who inspires us and all of creation. We are breathing in the God stardust from the Big bang. In Aramaic, the Living One is The One from which all life comes. John affirms that “all things came to be through him [the Word], and without him nothing came to be.” The Word is the very life and light of the Living One who brings order out of chaos, fullness out of void, and light out of darkness.
I have another favorite poetic image of the Christ. The Christ is Wisdom dancing before the dawn of creation. Dance, dance, dance. Dance the dance of life and light. The Christ is Hagia Sophia in Thomas Merton’s prose poem:
There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a
dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden whole-
ness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom,
the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all
things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence
that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in word-
less gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen
roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly,
saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at
once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of
my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking
as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom.
The Living One is the Ground of All Being—the Mother of all. Here Wisdom is the “feminine” side of the Living One. The Living One is the mysterious UINTY and INTEGRITY, Wisdom.
In the Eastern mind, the word (dabar) is alive and active and brings about that which it represents. The Christ as the Divine Word, as Hagia Sophia, brings about life and light. Creation flares forth from the spoken Word. We live as light because we breathe the very essence of the Living One in whose image we are breathed forth.
Klotz paraphrases the Poor in Spirit beatitude from Matthew 5:3:
Ripe are those who reside in breath;
To them belongs the reign of unity.
Blessed are those who realize that breath is
Their first and last possession;
Theirs is the “I Can” of the cosmos.
You may want to end this reflection by listening to Irish Christian singer Kristyn Getty, “Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God”: http://www.nme.com/nme-video/youtube/id/xQkxC-AhhVo/search/keith–kristyn-getty
May the breath of God be within you and above you and beside you with the fullness of life and light for the New Year!