8 January – Tuesday after Epiphany Sunday
1 John 4:7-10
My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
As Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length. By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place and it is getting very late, So send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ They answered, ‘Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?’ How many loaves have you?’ he asked ‘Go and see.’ And when they had found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people together in groups on the green grass, and they sat down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing; then he broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the people. He also shared out the two fish among them all. They all ate as much as they wanted. They collected twelve basketfuls of scraps of bread and pieces of fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.
Movie plots and TV series tend to dramatise the emotion of love by illustrating the heights and depths of what a person would do for the people whom he or she loves. Sometimes this entails the embarking of a path of revenge in order to seek redress against grievance which the family has suffered. This approach I believe is a misguided type of love. The readings of today show us that to identify true love, we only need to look at the fruits and the outcomes of one’s actions.
One of the fruits of love is a spirit of generosity and this is seen in the Gospel of today where Jesus multiplied the loaves. For some, this parable could have been heard so many times that we may have become immune to its message. Jesus showed to the people his compassion for those around him. He cared for their well-being and made sure their material needs were met. I believe that sometimes we also need to be more aware of the need to be more observant of the lives of the people in our peripheral vision. The lady who cleans the pantry, the worker who clears our rubbish and the man who distributes the newspapers all have a background and story from which we can encounter and share the love of God with.
Love therefore is not a vengeful type of love but one which shows great generosity of spirit and forgiveness to all whom we meet. As we go about our daily lives, let us find an opportunity to show love to these people and in the process allow others to discover the great mercy of God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Father, we pray for us to love all others with empathy.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who make a point to forgive their enemies despite the difficulty.