Immersed in Christ: January 6, 2021
Wednesday after Epiphany
The Responsorial (Psalm 72) tells us, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” But for this to happen, Christians must learn to express love.
1John 4: 11-18 reminds us, “No one has ever seen God.” But people should be able to see him in us: “If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” The verb here — teleiov — is the same used in James 2:22, which says Abraham’s “faith was brought to completion by his works.” God’s love reaches its fullness in us when it becomes visible in action.1
That is when “we know that we live in him and he in us.” It is by the fact “he has given us of his Spirit.” When we are aware that our actions can only be explained by the Holy Spirit in us, empowering us to love as Christ, then we know we live by him. And our lives bear witness that Jesus is risen to continue living and loving in the world in the Church, his real body on earth.
When we experience ourselves loving as Christ — or letting Christ within us express his love in our actions — then we can say, “We have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.” Because Christ’s death and resurrection is bearing visible fruit in our lives, we know his death really was God’s saving act of love: “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.”
We experience God’s life and love together by living in love ourselves: “God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
When love reaches maturity it “casts out all fear.” When our experience of being loved by God has freed us from the need to strive for “righteousness” through slavish, literal adherence to laws, then our actions can be motivated by love — by free desire to give rather than by fixation on looking out for ourselves. “Love is not yet perfect” — has not grown to maturity — “in one who is afraid.” The “fruit of the Spirit” is joy.2
When we as Church live joy and give joy by showing love to everyone we meet, then “every nation on earth will adore him.”
Mark 6:45-52 returns us to Eucharist. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea, they “thought it was a ghost and... were terrified.” Mark says it was because “they had not understood about the loaves,” which, as a preview of Eucharist revealed two things: Jesus is God and God is love.
If we understand in Eucharist that it is God himself who is giving himself for us and to us, and that Eucharist is essentially and throughout an expression of God’s love, how can we live in fear? Of anything? If our love has come to maturity, we will show it in the self-giving of “building up the church” by the way we participate: actively, not passively; fully, not on our own terms, and consciously, listening to the words and letting them move us to an enthusiasm which, expressed, will enhance the faith and fervor of others.3
Then we will know and celebrate the Greeting’s wish for us: “... and the love of God be with you.”
Initiative: Get in touch with love and life by expressing love in your life.
1 John’s Gospel; uses this same word of Jesus completing the work the Father gave him 4:34, 5:36, 17:4. See also 1John 2:5: love is made perfect in acts of obedience. 2 Galatians 5:22. 3 See Vatican II, Sacred Liturgy. nos. 11, 14 and Paul’s description of maturity in 1Corinthians chapters 12-14.