‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes and touche with our hands, concerning
the Word of Life'. Who could touch the Word with his hands, were
it not that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us?
This Word, who became flesh in order that he could be touched
by hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary's womb. But he did
not hen begin to be the Word; for St John says, ‘That which was from the
beginning'. See how his letter corroborates his gospel, from which
you heard a short time ago, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word
was with God'.
Possibly some may understand ‘concerning the Word of life' as a vague
expression referring to Christ, not meaning that very body of Christ which
was touched by hands. But you must take into account what follow,
‘And life itself was made manifest'. It is Christ, therefore, who
is the Word of life.
And how was life manifested? It was from the beginning,
but it had not been manifested to men; yet it had been revealed to the
angels, as they saw it and were nourished by it as if it were their bread.
What does scripture say? ‘Man has eaten bread of angels'.
So the life itself was made manifest in the flesh, because it
depended on ‘manifestation', that a reality only perceptible to the heart
might also be visible to our eyes, and thus heal our hearts. For
the Word is seen only by the heart, but the flesh is seen also by bodily
eyes. There was in fact flesh which we could see, in order to heal
the heart, the means by which we could see the Word.
‘And we are witnesses', he says, ‘and proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and was made manifest among us'; to make the
text clearer it is permissible to read ‘was made manifest to us'.
‘That which we have seen and heard therefore we proclaim to you'.
My dear brethren in Christ, take note of this: ‘that which we have seen
and heard therefore we proclaim to you'. They - namely the writers
- saw the Lord himself, present in the flesh and heard the words from the
Lord's own lips, and proclaimed them to us. So we also have heard,
but we have not seen.
Is it to be concluded that we are less blessed than those who heard
and also saw? How then does the writer add, ‘that you say have fellowship
with us'? They saw, we have not seen; and yet we are in fellowship
with them, for we hold a common faith.
‘And our fellowship is with God the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
And', he adds, ‘we are writing this that you joy may be complete'.
This complete joy of which he speaks is in that very fellowship itself,
in that very love, in that very unity.