“Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.” - St Anthony of Padua
(1 John 2:3-11) Beloved:
The way we may be sure that we know Jesus
is to keep his commandments.
Whoever says, "I know him," but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:
whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.
Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you
but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.
The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you,
which holds true in him and among you,
for the darkness is passing away,
and the true light is already shining.
Whoever says he is in the light,
yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother remains in the light,
and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.
Whoever hates his brother is in darkness;
he walks in darkness
and does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
The purpose of the Christmas season is to grow greatly in love for Jesus. To grow in love requires God's grace, our willingness to accept His grace, and a process by which we are transformed and made more capable of loving. We go through this process of transformation by taking step after step in obedience. "By obedience to the truth" we purify ourselves "for a genuine love" (1 Pt 1:22). "The way we can be sure of our knowledge of Him is to keep His commandments" (1 Jn 2:3).
By obedience, Mary conceived Christ and loved Him more deeply than anyone has ever loved Him. By obedience, Joseph became the foster-father of Jesus and grew from love to love. By obedience, the shepherds and wise men saw the infant Jesus and began a new life of love forever. By obedience, Simeon "came to the temple" (Lk 2:27) where he met Jesus, the Light to the Gentiles, the Glory of Israel (Lk 2:32), and the God Who is Love (1 Jn 4:16).
In today’s reading, John is very specific about being and living who we say we are. It is our actions not just empty claims of knowing Jesus that will secure us a place in the light. The actions that he writes of are actions that are based on a sincere love of our sisters and brothers. That kind of love that motivates our actions comes from a recognition of the dignity bestowed by God on each and every human being. That kind of love motivates us to treat everyone with respect , to meet their needs, soothe their pain and sorrow, and provide a witness to the love that comes from our heavenly father.
It is a love that does not allow for discrimination between the beginning of life and the end of life, the person on death row and the saintly neighbor, the rich and the poor, the mentally ill and the physically ill, the homeless man begging at the interstate exit and those who are gainfully employed, etc. It is not always an easy love; we all have prejudices that we have to work at overcoming or at least moments when it is difficult to truly find God in another. Jesus is always there to help us in finding the dignity of others as long as we are open to him.
Sure, it may be easy to follow God’s commandments when everything is peachy and those around us are not annoying us; but when things get tough, how easy is it to actually love the complaining friend, the screaming child, and the angry boss?