Thursday, January 7, 2010

Whoever Loves God Must Also Love His Brother!

Reading I               1 John 4:19–5:4
Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.


In today’s First Reading, Saint John presents a very clear message about Love: If you say “I love God”, but you hate your brother, you are a liar.” But, who is my brother? In the gospels, Jesus teaches us that there are two great commandments: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” And the second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28-31). In this Epistle, John’s use of the word “brother” is equivalent to Mark’s use of the word “neighbor”. The commandment of loving one another goes beyond family relationships, beyond gender, beyond friendship, or even mere acquaintance: “My brother” is everyone in this world except myself, and I should love all of them with the same love I have for myself. The commandment is clear: Whoever loves God loves everyone else in the world.

In the second part of the reading, John expands on this principle: If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah begotten by God, then because we love the Father, we also love the Son. But if we love the eternally begotten Son of God, we must also love all of God’s children. How do we express our love for God and for His children: by loving God and keeping His commandments. For some, keeping the commandments is burdensome, often because their motivation for keeping the commandments is to avoid punishment. But, if we know that God is love, and that his commandments are intended to guide us in doing God’s will, then we recognize the commandments as guideposts on the way to the eternal kingdom, as guidance from a loving Father to his beloved children. Then the victory that conquers the world, and allays our fear, is our faith in our Father’s mercy and loving kindness.

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Responsorial         Psalm 72
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
May they be prayed for continually;
day by day shall they bless him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

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Gospel                 Luke 4:14-22
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.


Most books are about other books. If they are not referring directly to them they have them at the edge of their vision and they are quoting or half-quoting from them, agreeing or disagreeing. That's the way we are. We are a community, even when we are doing one of the loneliest things one can do: writing a book.

Jesus stood up in the synagogue and read from the book of Isaiah. The rabbis and scribes loved to quote commentary after commentary, but here there is silence as Jesus finishes. “The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” Into that dramatic moment he spoke the words, “Today these words come true even as you listen.” Not some time in the future, not in eternity, but today. It is awkward when a book spills over into reality – into the present moment. It’s as if a picture on the wall was to expand beyond its frame and its figures were to come down the wall and speak to you.

A Zen master had spoken for an hour on the power of the present moment, the Now. At the end, someone said, “I like your concept of the Now!” The Zen master reacted almost as if he had been struck. “It is not a concept!” he roared! ‘Now’ is reality, ‘Today’ is reality. Good news to the poor is to be a reality; freedom to the oppressed is to be a reality. This is real community, unlike the fictional community of books.
Donagh O’Shea, O.P

1 comment:

Sarah in the tent said...

'A year acceptable to the Lord'

In a way, by studying these daily readings of the liturgical year and seeking Christ in them, I think we are all trying to be part of a year that is acceptable to the Lord. Incarnation involved all the physical dimensions, including that of time. Christ Himself, present in time, is a year acceptable to the Lord.