Sts. Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops & Doctors of the Church
1 John 2:22-28 + John 1:19-28
January 2, 2019
And now, children, remain in Him….
With all due respect to the Little Flower, an argument could be made that her “Little Way” was first taught by the Beloved Disciple, St. John the Evangelist and Apostle. At the very least, her Little Way is rooted in the scriptural doctrine of the Beloved Disciple. It would be interesting to explore the writings of the Little Flower for references to those scripture verses written by the Beloved Disciple which the Church proclaims during Christmastide.
One of the themes of Christmastide that lies at the heart of the Beloved Disciple’s Little Way is the theme of childhood. This theme has at least two dimensions to it. The first is that the eternal, divine Word became a tiny, helpless infant. The second is that each Christian is herself meant during Christmastide to become a child once again.
In today’s First Reading, while it’s true that the word “children” is heard only once, the Johannine doctrine of discipleship as childhood is rooted in the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Christ is the exemplar of the disciple’s childhood, and it is within the divine Son made Flesh that each of us may live as the Father’s child.
One of the words in today’s First Reading that speaks specifically to being God the Father’s child in Christ is the verb “remain”. Six times in this passage of only seven verses, the Beloved Disciple uses the word “remain” or “remains”. But St. John exhorts those whom he addresses as “Beloved” in two distinct ways. As we seek during Christmastide to grow as the Father’s children, we need to tend to both forms of “remaining”.
The first concerns that which is meant to remain within the Christian. In today’s First Reading, the Beloved Disciple speaks twice to this point. He exhorts the “Beloved”: “Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.” We can consider this as being the divine Word remaining within the Christian disciple. Then, St. John also reminds the “Beloved” that “the anointing that you received from Him remains in you”. We can consider this in terms of the Holy Spirit, who is the source of all divine anointings.
The second form of remaining concerns where we ourselves are meant to remain: that is, within the life of the Most Holy Trinity. Three times in today’s First Reading St. John speaks to this point. Any one of these would make for fruitful meditation throughout this day, but we might choose a single sentence from 1 John 2:24, where the two forms of remaining come together, or we might say, co-inhere: “If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.”
The Most Holy Name of Jesus
1 John 2:29—3:6 + John 1:29-34
January 3, 2019
“Now I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God.”
Today’s passage from the First Epistle of John seems, at least at first hearing, to focus upon the relationship between God the Father and the disciple who is the Father’s adopted child. St. John speaks of two distinct ways in which the disciple is God the Father’s child. On the one hand, he states that “everyone who acts in righteousness is begotten by Him.” On the other hand, he exhorts his listeners to “[s]ee what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”
We might reflect for a long time upon these two, which seem to focus upon, on the one hand, good works, and on the other hand, divine love. The Beloved Disciple, of course, does not says that the disciple’s acts of righteousness are what make her a child of God. This is no more possible than a child giving birth to herself. The Beloved Disciple simply states that authentic righteous acts are signs of one who has been begotten by the Father.
On the other hand, the Beloved Disciple does state that the Father’s caritas—that is, His very self—is the source of His begetting. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”
Nonetheless, this distinction is not the heart of today’s passage from 1 John. The Beloved Disciple makes a further distinction when he states: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” So then, as it is in earthly life, it is also in the spiritual life: childhood prepares for something greater. St. John elaborates on this point through his next sentence: “We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
Each of us, “when it is revealed”, will be like the Father. We shall be like Him. We shall share in the life of the Father, “for we shall see Him as He is.”
Yet another way to meditate on the truths of today’s First Reading is to use a basic principle of Scripture study: namely, to hold up two passages from different parts of the Bible to the same light, in order to see how those two complement each other. In this case, we can turn to a passage from the fourteenth chapter of the Beloved Disciple’s Gospel account. The setting is the Last Supper. The Beloved Disciple records this exchange between St. Philip and Our Lord:
Philip said to [Jesus], “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works” [John 14:8-10].
It is because we see the Incarnate Son of God that we see the Father. It is by truly living in Jesus that we may live now as children, yet in a day to come as sharers in the life of God the Father Himself, in an even more full manner.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious
1 John 3:7-10 + John 1:35-42
January 4, 2019
Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil.
One of the words in today’s First Reading—“revealed”—can help us focus on serving others in order to foster love. We continue to hear from the First Epistle of John. The Beloved Disciple is very blunt in his epistles. He has just as sharp a sense of evil as he does of divine love. Surely John’s perception of both was whetted on the rock of Calvary.
John declares plainly that “the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil.” You could say that this sentence sums up the way that John’s Gospel account moves from the signs of Jesus’ seven miracles to the Sign of the Cross, the glory of which destroys Satan’s power. John’s account of the Gospel shows how Jesus “revealed” Himself to mankind in stages.
So also the Holy Spirit has worked in the history of the Church, and in the life of each saint. Ask God for yet another Christmas gift: the same patience with your own spiritual growth that God has with you, as He continues unfailingly throughout your life to love you.
St. John Neumann, Bishop
1 John 3:11-21 + John 1:43-51
January 5, 2019
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Everyone knows that Christmastide is about the beginnings of Jesus’ human life. But this holy season is about other beginnings, as well. In today’s Gospel passage, from the first chapter of John’s Gospel account, the evangelist narrates “preliminaries” in the unfolding of Jesus’ public ministry.
Jesus calls first. Calling is the beginning of His ministry. This truth reminds us of God’s respect for human free will. The Christian Faith does not profess a belief in absolute predestination. That is to say, it would make no sense for God to call someone to follow Him if that someone had no freedom to reject or accept God’s call. Human free will, then, is the first point we notice in today’s Gospel scene.
Secondly, today’s Gospel passage presents a double calling. Jesus calls Philip, and Philip calls Nathaniel. This double calling sets before us the truth that Jesus’ call is at times mediated through others.
This truth is foundational not only to salvation history as a whole, but also to the life of each Christian disciple. We must teach those in our care to reject the shallow “me and Jesus” approach to Christianity that refuses to admit that God’s grace is mediated to us through others. In turn, we ourselves must listen to others not only as fellows, but as potential bearers of God’s Word for us.