Friends, today’s Gospel comes to its climax with the magnificent phrase: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
The Gnostic temptation has tugged at the Church, on and off, for nearly the past two thousand years. This is the suggestion, common to all forms of Puritanism, that the spiritual is attained through a negation of the material. But authentic Christianity, inspired by this stunning claim of St. John, has consistently held off Gnosticism, for it knows that the Word of God took to himself a human nature and thereby elevated all of matter and made it a sacrament of the divine presence.
The Greek phrase behind “made his dwelling among us” is literally translated as “tabernacled among us” or “pitched his tent among us.” No Jew of John’s time would have missed the wonderful connection implied between Jesus and the temple. According to the book of Exodus, the ark of the covenant—the embodiment of Yahweh’s presence—was originally housed in a tent or tabernacle. The evangelist is telling us that now, in the flesh of Jesus, Yahweh has established his definitive tabernacle among us.