• Stillness

    When cold, you might stand before the sun and let its warmth bathe you.  A suggestion of St Ignatius is a spiritual version of that.  He suggests that before we begin a time of prayer we stand for about a minute and let God gaze at us.  This is the God who made you and loves you. So take a minute now.  Stand up if you can or remain sitting if that makes more sense.  Be still, and let God look at you, or be with you, in any way that God wants . . . Allow God to shed light on your innermost being as you settle into prayer today… God who sees all of our darkness, and loves us still…

  • Scripture

    Jn 1: 4-9

    What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

    There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

  • Reflection

    • The Gospel of John begins with the meaning of John’s ministry as someone who is sent by God to witness to Jesus, the incarnated light and love of God.

      As with John, you have been sent by God into the world with a mission. How does it make you feel when you stop and reflect on this? How are you being called to testify to the light? Pope Francis reminds us that “an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral (E.G. #10). Have you become complacent about the ‘Good News’? What do you believe this Good News to be? What real significance does it have for your life? What keeps you believing in the Good News?

    • John the Baptist demanded a deep commitment to love and justice of those who came to him for baptism. By being baptised by John, Jesus confirmed these as values intrinsic to his own ministry and, many centuries later, St. Ignatius was to highlight the centrality of love and justice to our faith when he tells us that “Love is shown more in deeds than in words.”

      How intrinsic is love and justice to the living out of your faith on a daily basis?

      Think of what happened to John the Baptist because of his commitment to these values. Reflect on those who face persecution and intimidation as a consequence of their commitment to justice and to their faith. In what ways are you called to be in solidarity with them?

    • John takes special care to reiterate that John the Baptist had come to bear witness to the light – he himself was not the light.

      Looking back over the recent past, take some time to reflect on a moment when you were the divine light for someone in their life. You also may be aware of a time you turned away from the light or neglected to radiate that light.

    • John uses the Greek word Zoë to describe ‘life’ when he tells us “what has come into being in him was life.” Another Greek word that he could have used is bios which refers to biological life (meaning that it has a natural life span and then dies). By using the term Zoë however, he tells us that the life that is in God and comes from God is a much more powerful form of life; Zoë refers to the principle/essence of life - the source of life that was in ‘the Word’ at the beginning of creation. It is life without death – a life-force that breaks through death and darkness, and it is this life-force that Jesus says later in John’s gospel is what he comes to give in abundance (Jn 10:10).

      Reflect on this life-giving potential, this giftedness that is in you… in your family and friends… in every person you encounter… in all of creation… in the cosmos. How does it feel to be grounded in, and surrounded by, divine life? How does it call you to live today … and each day… rooted in the divine principle of life that courses through all creation?

    • The interplay of Light and Darkness is a constant theme throughout John’s gospel. Metaphorically, the image is used to describe the truth of someone’s encounter with Jesus: Nicodemus initially meets Jesus in the darkness but later witnesses in the light (John 3:1-21; John 19:39-42); Judas’ betrayal happens at night (John 18:1-5); The Samaritan woman comes in full sunlight at noon (John 4:1-42)… Jesus tells you that you are the light of the world and to let your light shine before others.
    • Reflect on the particular light that is given only to you by God. Do you keep it hidden? What prevents you from putting it up for the whole world to see? What do you need to do to help you deeply appreciate the light that is within you… the light that is within others?
  • Talk to God

    • Imagine that you are sitting with Jesus when you hear him promise you open access to an abundance of divine life – the very same life that is in him. Sit quietly and think of what this means. How does it make you feel? What emotions arise in you when you hear that not only does Jesus promise you this divine energy and life but promises it to you ‘in abundance’?
    • As you sit together, Jesus explains that this life he is offering you is a light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5) Looking at you with compassion, Jesus reassures you that any parts of you that you prefer to keep in the darkness and hide away from others – and even perhaps yourself – are embraced by him as parts of you that have the potential for the light. Sit with him quietly as he gently gives you time to reflect on the parts of you that you are afraid of bringing into the light… of being exposed. Let them come to the surface gradually and allow yourself to feel his unconditional love and compassion for you as you show him the parts that you keep hidden and unspoken. Hear him say to you: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah. 31:3) Hear and feel his embrace of love and acceptance of the whole you.
    • In the same way as John the Baptist was called to witness to the Light, so too are you called to witness. Reflect on the words of Pope Francis: "We need credible witnesses. And when we have no witness, perhaps life goes well, we earn well, we have a profession, a good job, a family … but we are men and women who are 'parked' in life; that is, we do not go ahead, we do not move on”. Do you follow the call to witness and testify to God’s light in the world or are you willing to be ‘parked’ in life without any movement into the unknown? Are you willing to open yourself up more to what God is asking of you in your life? Ask God to encourage you to open up to the ‘God of surprises’ … to trust the God of mystery… so that you are constantly discovering anew the incarnated God.
    • Advent is a time that is often marked by hoping and waiting in the darkness, while trusting and believing in the light. Take time to reflect on some of the things you are hoping and waiting for this Advent. Let them go and entrust them into God’s care as fully as you can. Sometimes it is more difficult to risk believing in the light than to stay in the darkness. If this is the case for you, hand over your reluctance to trust into Jesus’ hands and ask him for the gift of trust.
    • What images, questions, thoughts or feelings are you left with after your reflection on these words of John. Spend some time in quiet prayer with whatever arises.