Immersed in Christ: December 29, 2020
Fifth day of Christmas and Feast of St. Thomas a Becket
The Responsorial (Psalm 96) insists,
“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice.”
What are we rejoicing in?
We have seen that the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (the favor of sharing in God’s divine life), and “communion in the Holy Spirit” (koinonia) are almost interchangeable. Now 1John 2: 3-11 tells us that the second element of the Greeting, “the love of God,” is also inseparable from the other two.
This love is not just human love of God. It is a sharing in God’s own love for himself. It is God’s own divine love poured out in our hearts. And this love, John is at pains to insist with us, is inseparable from love of neighbor. We cannot be loving with God’s love unless we love all whom his love embraces.
Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light.
In John, Jesus is Life that is Light. His gift to us is the “light of life.” Only those can say, “I have come to know him” who know they are “in him” and share his life because they “walk as he walked.” This is not just to live a “moral life,” but to “keep his word,” by which we know his mind and heart and strive to love as he loved. Then the “love of God,” one with his light and life, is “made perfect” in us. God’s divine Light, Life and Love come together. 1
Knowing Christ, living as Christ and loving as Christ are inseparable. “Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light.” Christian koinonia, “communion in the Holy Spirit,” is experienced in this trilogy of light, life and love: “one Lord,” whose commandment is love, “one faith” through enlightenment by word and Spirit, “one Baptism,” through which we receive the divine life of God.
I therefore... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.... making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
This is the koininia, the fellowship in sharing divine life, that John said was the goal of evangelization (see Monday). Only when we experience this have we been truly “evangelized.” We know the Good News when we can’t stop saying with others, “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice.”
Luke 2: 22-35 tells us Simeon waited most of his life for this. He couldn’t say, “My eyes have seen your salvation” until he “took Jesus in his arms and praised God.” This tells us that to really experience the Good News requires: 1. physical contact, 2. interior acceptance, and 3. expressing praise.
The Good News is that God is made flesh. We don’t experience it until we personally embrace Jesus in the divine, human, holy and sinful reality of his actual body on earth, the Church. This is the “light of revelation” Paul preached “to the Gentiles”: “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” When we express what this means to us in communal celebration, we know koinonia. 3
Initiative: To know you know Jesus, embrace him and love him in his human body on earth — and express your knowledge of him in praise with others.
1 John 1:4; 8:12.
2 Ephesians 4:1-6. 3 Colossians 1:27.