The Fifth Day within the Octave of Christmas
1 John 2:3-11 + Luke 2:22-35
December 29, 2016
“Whoever loves his brother remains in the light….”
The branch of theology called Christology does nothing more than explore answers to the question posed by the old Christmas hymn: “What child is this?” Many Scripture passages about the nativity and early life of Jesus reflect on the question of His identity. For example, the three gifts of the Magi represent the Person before whom they prostrate themselves. When Mary and Joseph are confused at finding the child Jesus in the Temple, Jesus drives home the point that He is the Son of God who belongs in His Father’s House.
Of course, for a disciple of Jesus, we want to know more about Him not for the sake of knowledge itself. We want to know who Jesus is so that we might love Him better: more thoroughly, more deeply, and more selflessly.
Throughout the Christmas Season, the Sacred Liturgy turns to St. John the Beloved Disciple for an answer to that hymn’s question, “What child is this?” Throughout John’s Gospel account, and even more so in his epistles, the Beloved Disciple teaches us that “God is love”, and John teaches us what it means for a disciple to enter into this love.
In today’s First Reading from the First Letter of Saint John, the Beloved Disciple responds to the question of “How do we know Jesus?”, which is a variation on “What child is this?” John’s response is that “the way [to] know Jesus is to keep His commandments.” This might seem an odd answer: how would one’s commandments tell us about the commander’s identity? If we were to reflect further on this question, we might realize how one generally commands about matters only of importance to oneself. In the case of God, His commands are commands to live in Him: to live in love, or rather, simply to love.