Immersed in Christ: January 7, 2021
Thursday After Epiphany
(Continue reflections on 1John)
1John 4:19 to 5:4 begins, “We love because God first loved us.” Is that your experience?
When asked, “How do you know God loves you?” people answer:
• “I just know it.”
• “Because he tells me he does.”
• “If he made this whole world and me, he must have done it out of love.”
How would you answer?
John says. “Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” But he doesn’t say we learn to love God by loving others. True love of others depends on loving God: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” The love John is speaking of is that which those “begotten of God” have for the Father. Anyone who “loves the Begetter,” he says, “loves the begotten.” From beginning to end, John is talking about the divine Love those have who share God’s divine Life. So “we love God” and others, “because he first loved us,” and in loving us is sharing his Life with us. Christian love of others is essentially an experience of sharing God’s divine Life.
But, paradoxically, we experience being loved by God in the act of loving others.
When we do not feel loved, our focus is on ourselves. Even in relationships, we give love to get love, to be accepted. Or to be approved by God, feel “safe” with him by keeping his commandments. But if we find ourselves just giving love for the sake of giving it, that requires “as the condition for its possibility” (thank you, Karl Rahner) the security, the deliverance from having to take care of ourselves first, that comes from knowing we are loved, that we already have all we need for survival and happiness.
Being loved by humans contributes to this, but only being loved by God can make us loving toward everyone else, because the experience of being loved by God is an experience of sharing God’s Life. By this we desire that all people should “be and become all they can be” because we share in God’s appreciation of their intrinsic value, in his love and desire for them.
The theme of 1John is that we experience God’s Life by giving his Love to others in conscious awareness that he is giving his Love to us. This is our experience of the Truth of what we are and of what Jesus is and is doing within us. And it is our strength.
Pretty deep stuff. What did you expect? A kindergarten class? Paul prays that we might “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.” Let’s just pray to get a little more out of the Greeting: “May the... love of God... be with you.”
John ends, “Everyone born of God wins against the world.... the power that wins against the world is our faith.”1. Luke 4: 14-22 shows us this power in action:
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit.... began to teach in their synagogues.... “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news....”
The Responsorial (Psalm 72) proclaims our faith that if we love and minister as God does, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.”
Initiative: “Where you don’t find love, put love and you will find it” (St. John of the Cross). Resolve to “put love” by showing love to every person you deal with.
1 The Greek is nika — more “wins” than “conquers.” The name Nicholas, Nicole, etc. means “winner.”