|I Jn 4:11-18
Ps 72:1-2, 10, 12-13
1 John 4”11-18 “…Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another…”
Psalm 72: 1-2, 10, 12-13 “…Lord, every nation on earth will adore you...”
Mark 6: 45-52 “…’Take courage, it is I,
do not be afraid!’ He got into the boat with them and the wind died
Today’s readings are for the Wednesday following the Epiphany, when we remember the wise men who followed the star which led them to our Lord’s crib in a manger. We read we learned that these men prostrated themselves in front of the child Jesus. Maybe their long journey had prepared them for that moment, but we know their hearts were open to receive God’s Grace, because they knew they were in the presence of Holy.
With today’s readings we are invited to examine our own hearts, how receptive or wide open do we allow our hearts to be for each other? In the gospel reading in the 6th chapter of Mark we are told the apostles hearts were hardened. It is still somewhat early in Christ’s ministry. The apostles have come back from a trip, where Christ has commissioned them to teach and to heal. Being weary they all expect to slip away to rest and regroup, but droves of people follow them and their plans of resting are foiled. Instead of being upset, Jesus begins teaching them. Then, His heart still moved with pity because He said they were like lost sheep, He feeds them by blessing and multiplying what they had amongst themselves, just five loaves and two fish. He tells the disciples to meet him on the other side while he dismisses the crowd. Jesus goes to the mountain to pray, but later sees the boat still way out from shore being tossed about. He walks out on the water to them, and they are very frightened, thinking they have seen a ghost and Jesus tells them not to be afraid. After He gets into their boat the wind dies down. The apostles are said not to have understood the incident with the loaves. “On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.” (Mk 6:52)
In 1 John we are told that there is no fear in love and that “perfect love drives out fear.” John’s letter weaves through a series of logic statements that since God is love, and He sent His son out of Love; we have met His son and His son is love. Even though no one has ever seen the Father, because God wants to reside in us we must be of love too. But, if you say you love God who you haven’t seen, but do not love your neighbor whom you have seen, you cannot love God. Being able to love everyone seems difficult to imagine. What about those who hurt us? Some we don’t know well, some we know better, but hurt is hurt. My heart likes to run from being hurt. But, I know running has also closed my heart down.
God, who made us all in His image, also calls us to be like Him,
to be perfect. What is hurt anyway? God is hurt everyday by
our actions; some might hurt Him more than others. But because God
is Love and He continues to love all of His creation, He asks us to do
the same. He is calling all of humanity to love one other.
To those whom His Son Jesus has been revealed, we have seen Love and He
expects more from us. Let us not turn our backs on Him, but rather
face God and ask Him to give us the courage to do each day’s small acts,
to love those with whom we have the occasional small scraps. When
the time comes and we face a larger fight, we will be conditioned with
practice to do what He asks us to do with that encounter. If we practice
this in our personal lives, then as a nation we will know what He is asking
us to do with our fears of those neighbors who we believe want to harm
us. It comes down to trusting Him, for time and time again we have
been told that the Lord will not abandon us. Through conflict
the human being grows stronger, out of necessity. Lord thank you
for opening our hearts to receive your message about Love today, give us
the strength to keep our hearts open, so that others may see your Love…Amen.
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