The Responsorial Psalm invites us again, “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice” (Psalm 96).
1 John 2: 2-17 tells us why: “because your sins have been forgiven… because you know him who is from the beginning… because you have conquered the Evil One… because you know the Father… you are strong and the word of God remains in you….”
John acknowledges the power of “the world,” meaning the infected societies in which all humans live, whose false attitudes and values keep affecting us because we see and hear them every day.
But the powerful impact the “world” has on us with its images, words, sound-bites, music, and enveloping tides of cultural trends has been countered by the visible presence of Jesus-Emmanuel: “God-with-us” speaking and acting in the Christian community by a new spirit: the Spirit of God. To let Jesus do this in us, John exhorts us, “Do not love the world or the things of the world…. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticements for the eyes, and a pretentious life…. is passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.” This is reason to sing, “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice.”
Luke 2: 36-40 tells us that after Jesus was recognized in the temple by Anna, he went back to his “own town,” and there “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom….”
This is happening now. In each one of us, who are his “own body,” Jesus is “growing to full stature.” To each one of us God has given the gift of grace, the “favor” of sharing in the divine life of God. With this comes the gift of the Holy Spirit, working within us “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4: 12-13).
We are the body of Christ. We have “become Christ.” But we are still programmed by our society to think, feel and act in ways contrary to his. Our task is to keep interacting with Jesus, keep listening to him speaking to us in our hearts, in his word, in the community, until all our thoughts and desires are in union with his. Then Jesus will shine out in us as “Emmanuel: God with us.” Then “the heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice.”
Initiative: If you want to know Jesus, seek him where he can be found. Be aware of his presence within you. Try to grow into deeper union with his mind and heart by paying attention to how you feel when you consult him.