Direct experience and integrity (1 John 1:1-2:3 )

The opening of John’s Gospel (“In the beginning was the word”) is familiar to many of us. The opening of the first letter of John, which is the first reading for today’s Mass, on the feast of John the Evangelist is less familiar, although it begins in similar manner (“Something which has existed since the beginning”).

English: St John the evangelist
English: St John the evangelist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something which has existed since the beginning,
that we have heard,
and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched
and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life –
this is our subject.
That life was made visible:
we saw it and we are giving our testimony,
telling you of the eternal life
which was with the Father and has been made visible to us.
What we have seen and heard
we are telling you
so that you too may be in union with us,
as we are in union
with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.

In his commentary on this passage, which is the second reading for today’s Divine Office, Augustine draws attention to the tangible corporality of Jesus’ body:

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.

Modern Christians cannot expect in touch the physical body of Jesus in that same way, but it is nevertheless possible even so, for us to experience a direct experience of God, through our prayer. Indeed, it is that experience which is the bedrock of faith, not intellectual rationalizing.

In the same way, for LGBT people, it is our direct experience of our sexuality or gender identity that tells us, without any need of external justification, that testifies deep within us, to our own truth – guiding us to live honestly and with integrity.


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