The Tuesday after Epiphany
1 John 4:7-10 + Mark 6:34-44
January 5, 2016
“…He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.”
The last sentence of today’s First Reading is my favorite verse of Scripture. I plan, whenever the Lord calls, to have this verse on the holy card at my funeral. To me it sums up the entire Gospel message. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.”
The backdrop for this verse is the truth that “God is love”, which John declared two verses earlier. This verse, then, expands on the meaning of the divine nature, answering the implicit question, “If God is love, what is that love like?”
Like any clear reasoner, John first answers by telling us what God’s nature is not. God’s nature is not such that He demands our love first, before He gives us His. God does not play games with His love (that is, His own Self). He does not exchange His love on a quid pro quo basis.
The foundational truth about God is the primacy of His love. His love always comes before ours, both in terms of His creation of us, and in terms of our sinfulness. In the face of our refusal to love Him, He chose to love us, and to heal the breach by sending us His only-begotten Son, “as expiation for our sins.”