"We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others. "--St. Clare of Assisi: (1194 – 1253: Born Chiara Offreduccio, is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi)
Scripture Text: (1 JN 4:11-18)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
The first reading for today begins with a surprising statement: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” As I read this, I was expecting the author to say: “If God so loved us, we also must love God.” But no. The real test of whether we are returning God’s love is our passing that love on to others around us. God is the source of love and does not need our love returned. We cannot give God something God has in infinite abundance. God does not want us to hoard this gift of love. God wants us to use it by loving our brothers and sisters.
The reading tells us that “no one has ever seen God.” Therefore, it is difficult to measure our love for God. We can say that we love God and the way to prove that personal statement is that we love others as God loves us. Therefore, if we can say that we are sincerely trying to love the people around us, those with whom we come in contact by design or by chance, then God is genuinely present within us. These people are very visible, sometimes uneasy to be with. Yet, it is to these people that we are called to share God’s love.
Our Christian life is not primarily about being politically correct or religiously correct, not about being perfect in following every rule or in performing religious duties flawlessly. Our Christian life is about being loving people. And the source of that love is God, not ourselves. Our loving acts are an expression of God’s love working in and through us. We see this dynamic working in Jesus Christ, whom God sent as an offering for our sins. Jesus on the cross is the most dramatic sign of God’s love for us, a love that is freely given and never earned by any action of ours.
Six days into the New Year. How are you doing with your resolutions to make this a better year? Did you include being a more loving person?