Today the Catholic Church commemorates St. John the Evangelist. John, unlike any of us walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus and knew Him in ways we have not experienced. In the Office of Readings for the day we read the following from him in his Epistle about God made Man, Jesus the Living Word of God:
From the first letter of the apostle John1:1-2:3
Word of life and light of God
This is what we proclaim to you:what was from the beginning,what we have heard,what we have seen with our eyes,what we have looked uponand our hands have touched—we speak of the word of life.(This life became visible;we have seen and bear witness to it,and we proclaim to you the eternal lifethat was present to the Fatherand became visible to us.)What we have seen and heardwe proclaim in turn to youso that you may share life with us.This fellowship of ours is with the Fatherand with his Son, Jesus Christ.Indeed, our purpose in writing you thisis that our joy may be complete.
Here, then, is the messagewe have heard from himand announce to you:that God is light;in him there is no darkness.If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”while continuing to walk in darkness,we are liars and do not act in truth.But if we walk in light, as he is in the light,we have fellowship with one another,and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are free of the guilt of sin,”we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us.But if we acknowledge our sins,he who is just can be trustedto forgive our sinsand cleanse us from every wrong.If we say, “We have never sinned,”we make him a liarand his word finds no place in us.
My little ones,I am writing this to keep you from sin.But if anyone should sin,we have, in the presence of the Father,Jesus Christ, an intercessor who is just.He is an offering for our sins,and not for our sins only,but for those of the whole world.
The way we can be sure of our knowledge of himis to keep his commandments.
Then in support of the Epistle, we have a commentary from that great Saint Augustine about this First Letter of John and the linkage between it and the Gospel according to Saint John.
From tractates on the first letter of John by Saint Augustine, bishop(Tract 1, 1. 3: PL 35, 1978, 1980)
Life itself was revealed in the flesh
Our message is the Word of life. We announce what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have touched with our own hands. Who could touch the Word with his hands unless the Word was made flesh and lived among us?
Now this Word, whose flesh was so real that he could be touched by human hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary’s womb; but he did not begin to exist at that moment. We know this from what John says: What existed from the beginning. Notice how John’s letter bears witness to his Gospel, which you just heard a moment ago: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.
Someone might interpret the phrase the Word of life to mean a word about Christ, rather than Christ’s body itself which was touched by human hands. But consider what comes next: and life itself was revealed. Christ therefore is himself the Word of life.
And how was this life revealed? It existed from the beginning, but was not revealed to men, only to angels, who looked upon it and feasted upon it as their own spiritual bread. But what does Scripture say? Mankind ate the bread of angels.
Life itself was therefore revealed in the flesh. In this way what was visible to the heart alone could become visible also to the eye, and so heal men’s hearts. For the Word is visible to the heart alone, while flesh is visible to bodily eyes as well. We already possessed the means to see the flesh, but we had no means of seeing the Word. The Word was made flesh so that we could see it, to heal the part of us by which we could see the Word.
John continues: And we are witnesses and we proclaim to you that eternal life which was with the Father and has been revealed among us—one might say more simply “revealed to us.” We proclaim to you what we have heard and seen. Make sure that you grasp the meaning of these words. The disciples saw our Lord in the flesh, face to face; they heard the words he spoke, and in turn they proclaimed the message to us. So we also have heard, although we have not seen.Are we then less favored than those who both saw and heard? If that were so, why should John add: so that you too may have fellowship with us? They saw, and we have not seen; yet we have fellowship with them, because we and they share the same faith.And our fellowship is with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And we write this to you to make your joy complete—complete in that fellowship, in that love and in that unity.