God calls us to love. Today's first reading gives us a personal challenge.
Today's Gospel closes with a personal Epiphany. I pray today for the ability
to recognize and respond.
"Do not be amazed, brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have
passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not
love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer ... Let
us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth." I believe this passage
holds the words of someone who is thinking and acting counter to the popular
culture. They come from someone who respects his fellow man, even to the
point of self- sacrifice. Someone who is willing to endure hardship and criticism
to do what is right. There are many who chastised because they take on their
culture. I feel called as a Christian, to have and to express views that
are not in alignment with those of many of my friends and countrymen. Being
a Christian does not mean staying out of trouble. What is the basis of our
actions? Do we act out of love or do we act of personal gain? I look at what
the media serves to me, I look at our nation's policies (foreign and domestic),
and I listen to what my children tell me what goes on among their friends.
I do not feel part of a culture based in love. I see a society which is polarized
and dominated by self-interest. I put myself in the place of the author of
today's reading. I do not think his view of his society was very different
from mine. I see in the author someone who understands the transcendence
that our faith offers. The amazing thing is we can count the number of societies
that have risen and fallen in the last 2000 years, but the belief in this
transcendence founded in love has remained alive.
The words of the Psalmist affirm my belief. "... good indeed is the Lord,
whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness lasts through every age."
I enjoyed Nathanael's question in today's Gospel: "Can anything good come
from Nazareth?" Can insight come from places which are the outside the great
centers of power and learning? When I consider the most significant moments
of learning in my life, I realize they were housed in unsophisticated surroundings.
Those who provided the day-to-day experiences that formed my life as well
as those who provided the profound experiences which changed my life did
so in very humble ways. In each case, these again were people acting out
My prayer asks the Lord to give me confidence. I pray that our God is active
in our lives and in human history. Today's Gospel starts with a call. I pray
that we hear and that we listen to our call. I pray that we respond with
love and with the actions that it requires.