In a small room, set aside for silent adoration, I sat with my Lord and began to read the Gospel of John for the third time in my life. This day however, the opening chapter struck me differently. Rather than continue on, I let the words sit with me for a while, then read them again. With my assigned hour coming to a close, I quietly prayed a Chaplet of Mercy while still contemplating what I had just read. The most incredible experience happened during these prayers, as a flood of wisdom and understanding was granted me concerning the nature of God and his relationship with mankind. This wisdom has since been confirmed and reinforced by further study and instruction which has left me with a hunger for more and to share it with others.
The idea of Jesus as the living Word of God, made man, led me first to contemplate the Eucharist. A stumbling point for many, the Eucharist as the real body and blood of Christ is a mystery I began to understand through John’s writing. I thought of Jesus calling himself the bread of life. (Jn 6:35) I understood that the Word of God is the bread of life. I recalled the written word; “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Dt 8:3; Mt 4:4). I imagined the host, transformed at mass, being digested and absorbed by my body, becoming one with my body. I came to perceive the Eucharist as a real Communion. I could now see that we truly become one with the Lord through the sacrament.
Another point I was led to consider is the divinity of Christ. I was very familiar with Jesus, the man, the Son of God. I had been taught of him since childhood. He is my friend, my mentor, my brother. John’s gospel however, reveals the Christ as Word of God, who always existed and through whom, the world was created. Never before considering the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God in three persons, I began to think the term “Son of God” helped to hide the divine Christ behind the human. The more I simply said “of God”, the more I saw Him as everlasting and one with God. I recognized Christ as authority and law, the way, the truth and the life.
A question formed in my heart. How can a word, even that of God, become man? I believe in the power of God to manipulate the body of a man and/or woman and create a child within her, as he did with Abraham’s wife, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist and Mary herself, but to make his word flesh, how is that even possible? Almost immediately an answer came. Even the word of man has the ability to gain a life of its own. In poetry, prose and song, do not the words of men live on? They can move the spirit, inspire the mind and motivate the body. They can live across generations. One word can encourage or dishearten a brother or sister. A father’s word can create or destroy the life of his child. If the words of men have this capacity, what more then has the Word of God?
I had always expected God’s wisdom to come as if downloaded to my mind or spoken, as from a teacher. This felt more as if a veil had been lifted or that I had put on polarized lenses. I was seeing something that had always been there, but I had not been able to see. Some years later, I was researching prayer for a lesson I was to give middle school students. The book seller suggested an introduction to Lectio Divina. I was unsure it would fit, but she was insistent and I bought it. Reading it, I thought back to that evening in the chapel and realized what I had stumbled (or been led?) into. Today, I find myself reading the bible in a different way, in contemplation with Christ, rather than in historical or literary context.