For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you.
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God.
“We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another.” These words from today’s first reading contain an ancient wisdom which brings energy and the promise of new possibilities for the Christmas season. This is the result of God’s definitive love for all peoples in Christ. What St. Paul referred to as “the unfathomable riches of Christ” are now to be our companions on our earthly journey of loving service and witness.
Several learned saints have commented on this “new future.” St. Augustine said it quite directly: “Love….and do what you will.” St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out that love/charity is the animating soul of all other virtues. St. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 13 words familiar to many of us: “Now there remain these three–faith, hope, and love….and the greatest of these is love.” And St. John of the Cross wisely wrote: “At the end of our life we will be judged by the quality of our love.”
Insights such as these have prepared us well for living a deeply satisfying journey with the Holy Family.
—Fr. Walter J. Stohrer, SJ, is a member of the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, WI.
Pour forth into our hearts, good and gracious God,
the desire to be united with you in all we accomplish throughout 2018.
May your Holy Grace guide us, the example of Jesus strengthen us,
and the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit sustain us. Amen!
—a traditional New Year’s prayer
Please share the Good Word with your friends!