Daily Reflection
January 5th, 2002
Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
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Memorial, St. John Neumann, Bishop
1 John 3:11-21
Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5
John 1:43-51

John always writes, as he does in today's first reading, about several things at once, and it is nearly impossible to speak of only one of those themes without constant reference to the others.  Let me try anyway.

The central portion of this selection from John's first letter might be reduced to these statements:  Anyone who does not love is among the living dead.  We have passed from death to life because we love the brothers.  Jesus laid down his life for us, and so we must lay down our lives for our brothers.  God's love is not in us if we have enough of the world's goods and yet close our hearts to a brother in need.  Because we challenge the world's values by selfless care of others, the world rejects and even hates us.

I would add that "the world" consists of those who do not really love, only play at it or pretend to love or only let their love appear in words; these are the "living dead" whom John mentions.  And the conclusion which I would draw is that if our love does not take flesh in deeds we are truly still dead to God.

But John's last words today are of great solace.  He does not say that our good works take the place of faith but that God sees further into our hearts than we do and, no matter how little we might think of our efforts to love him and use his gifts properly, he knows and claims us as his own.

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