Grace to you!
We continue our daily reflections after the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The theme centers on the First Letter of St. John.
1 Johnis a beautiful letter with one central objective. It demonstrates that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ and God; and also, that we find eternal life in Christ. In other words, in Christ, we have all we need to be at peace with God. In Christ we are safely anchored. In Christ is redemption. Hence, for us believers, Christ is the measure of all virtues, all holiness and all justification.
We read this beautiful and profound line from 1 John 4: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:11-12).
Here, God’s word is speaking directly to our human situations and giving us some role modeling example. God who doesn’t hold back from identifying with your situation in your brokenness, pains and worries, speaks to you and me to do the same to those around us. God gives us the grace to do so.
There is something about true love that is unnerving. It is in what I call the quality ofotherness.That is, the quality of assuming the place of others and identifying with them as they are. It is the quality we see in parents who carry on themselves the struggles of their child. It is the quality that we see in a person, maybe a firefighter, who jumps in the fire that is blazing to save a child amidst the terrible flames. At that very moment, the instinct of self-preservation gives way to pure love for another person, the baby to be saved. Instinctual and maybe, for some, unreasonable as it may seem, yet for those who truly love, it is worth the sacrifice. It is indeed beautiful to do.
Many writers relate true love to sacrifice. Sure, it is an incredible commitment to sacrifice. The Love of God fully revealed to us in the Incarnation takes on a deeper meaning for us at the cross, the crucifixion. The wisdom of the Church is evident all through the biblical readings that follow through the year. We notice that the birth of Christ celebrated during Christmas is followed by a series of readings, including 1 John, that point to sacrificial love of God in Christ. They point us to the sacrificial love that the child born to us, the Lord Jesus, shows through the crucifixion. Thus, all love must be measured by its quality of the Cross.
True love is not a cherry-picking exercise that welcomes only the pleasant. True love is not the one we experience only when the going is a fun party. True love isn’t that instant when all are having a glass of Champaign or the choreographic displays during ballroom dances at festive moments of life. While these are beautiful moments to celebrate, we see the true test of true love when the chips are down, and we are alone to deal with the stark pain of human brokenness, or precisely the brokenness of another person.
The person could be a spouse, a sibling, a parent, a friend, a peer, a colleague or simply a member of the community or another city, country or race. True love is measured by its Christ-centered quality. It is in my willingness to see Christ in that broken person and relate with that person the way Christ on the cross relates with me. “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
1 John 4: 11-12 is for me, another incredible inspiration to love my neighbor as Christ loves and to show my love for another in the sacrificial way following in the footstep of Christ, my God and my Love.
Praying that God will help us to see love much more in the cross than simply in the ballroom dance of accomplishments. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday After Epiphany: 1 Jn 4:11-18; MK 6:45-52]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.