“Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.”– St. Anthony of Padua: (1195 –1231: also known as Anthony of Lisbon, was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order.)
Scripture Text: (1 JN 2:3-11)
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 first reading reminds me of an incident that happened in the Jesuit school I worked in, in India. It was the season of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Two elementary school boys were talking loudly during recess, while munching on snacks. One of them boasted, “My dad bought a lot of expensive patakas (fireworks) and we decorated our whole house with diyas (little clay lamps with cotton wicks dipped in oil).” Without missing a beat, the other boy shot right back, “Diwali is not about the outside light, but about our inner light!”
John, the author of the reading noted above, would have admired this young boy. He reminds us of the inner light that guides us on our journey to God. John argues in the first reading from Mass that if we say we know Christ but do not keep his commandments, then we are liars. Just because we celebrate Christmas or attend the midnight Mass on Christmas eve, does that mean we know and love Jesus? He invites us to keep Christ’s word by living as Christ lived.
John continues: If we think we are in the light but are jealous or hate our sister or brother, we are still in darkness. Such darkness blinds us and we fall. Such is contradictory to a life of love and light. Jesus’ commandment of fraternal love, however, is the inner light that empowers us to overcome the darkness of evil we experience in our daily lives. If we can connect with the light of Christ, we can experience God’s grace and allow Christ’s love and light to shine in and through us.