January 5, 2021
by Mark Latta
Creighton University's School of Dentistry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Second week of Christmas
Lectionary: 213

1 John 3:11-21
Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5
John 1:43-51

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For those in the U.S. celebrating St. John Neuman today.

The first reading is a simple but profound reminder on the centrality of love in our Christian life. Our lives following Jesus Christ can be summarized in one sentence: “We should love one another.” We are not to follow the example of Cain who killed his brother simply out of jealousy and spite. Yet in the world of sin and self-centered priorities it is a challenge to love—especially to love the “other”—that is, those who are not like us. We are told indeed that many in the world will hate us for that which we represent, i.e. the pouring out of ourselves in love like Jesus does for the world.

We would certainly like to be loved in return and we might think that a person’s natural reaction to our love would be reciprocation of that love. However, the example of Cain is prevalent in our world, sadly even at times inside the Church. Goodness and grace, to some individuals, can be threatening, and history has shown that many Christian martyrs have lost their lives as a result of this rejection of goodness and love.

Yet even with this fact, a valid sign that we are fully alive is in the love we show for our fellow men and women regardless of the response we get. Our love is a conduit for the life and presence of God in the world. As it is said later in Scripture, "God is love and whoever loves is in God and God is in them." God’s love is only in us when it passes through us to others.

Genuine love is found in actions and in truth and not in mere words. While we may be driven by movements of emotion the tangible manifestation of our love as Christians is most often in our tangible actions. 

The Gospel reading reveals what one of those actions must be for us. “Follow me,” Jesus asks of Phillip. When is Jesus asking this of us? Are we too preoccupied with our own problems to be attentive to God’s call for us? When we pray, perhaps we think of ourselves as searching for God but in fact God has been searching for us and is delighted when we slow down to encounter Him.

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