John’s Prologue: A Hymn to the Word of God

Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Print

By Sister Carolyn McWatters

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” (John 1:1,3)

With these compelling words the author begins the Prologue to the Gospel of John. While each evangelist grappled with the question “Who is Jesus?,” the fourth Gospel did so in a fresh, unique way. John drew upon an independent tradition of Jesus’ actions and teachings that had apparently circulated for years. His audience included people who were firm believers in Jesus; he sought to bolster their faith in Jesus’ divinity. Rather than approaching Jesus from a human perspective, John gives us a Gospel about the revelation of God the Father in Jesus.

The Gospel begins, not as a story, but as a song, a magnificent hymn to the Word of God, a Word which always existed in loving union with God. John thus introduces us to a Logos Christology. Through this Word, Christ, all things were created. Through the Word has come life and light. The Prologue continues by proclaiming that John the Baptist came to testify to this light that was soon to come into the world.

The hymn then announces the climax: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a Father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God, who had never been seen by humans, chose to reveal Godself to us visibly in Jesus. Incarnation makes all flesh holy. And there’s more: “From this fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. … It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18b).We are filled with his fullness, heart to heart.

The infancy narratives of the Synoptic Gospels contain in condensed form the kernel of the Good News: Jesus lived and died and rose to bear witness to the love of God and to show us our destiny. John’s prologue sings to the glory of God—a God who loves us so much that God comes to earth to show us God’s face and to reveal the divine communion into which we are invited.

My heart never fails to be moved by the poetry and compelling depth of this prologue. My acquaintance with the cosmology of the Universe Story contributes beautifully to my understanding of Christ as Word through whom all is created and by whom all stays in being. I resonate with the beauty of cosmic darkness through which light shines. How glorious to know that I am chosen to partake of the fullness of grace and divinity of Christ, that my life is in and with and through him. As Jesus perfectly reflected the Father in human flesh, so am I called to be a mirror in which others can behold the face of God, a song whose melody reveals God.

The coming of the Word to our world is an everlasting reality, a constant now. His light is eternally present and shines in our hearts, calling us to co-illumine the darkness of fear and hate and violence that so sickens our world today. The Logos speaks love in an eternal conversation, into which we are constantly being drawn, that we might speak love by our lives.

It is only by sitting over time in awe-filled contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation, and grappling with its implications, that we can unlock the deep truths of God enfleshed. With the Logos we are then graced and empowered to co-create, illumine, fill and transform our Earth into a new creation. What a profound mission!

Let us pray that the Cosmic Christ—Word of God and Light of the world—might deepen our understanding of our God, lead us to claim more fully our participation in Incarnational Mystery, and strengthen our commitment to loving action for the salvation of the world. With the Logos, may we eternally sing God’s praise!