5 January 2019
1 John 3:11-21
This is the message
as you heard it from the beginning:
that we are to love one another;
not to be like Cain, who belonged to the Evil One
and cut his brother’s throat;
cut his brother’s throat simply for this reason,
that his own life was evil and his brother lived a good life.
You must not be surprised, brothers, when the world hates you;
we have passed out of death and into life,
and of this we can be sure
because we love our brothers.
If you refuse to love, you must remain dead;
to hate your brother is to be a murderer,
and murderers, as you know, do not have eternal life in them.
This has taught us love –
that he gave up his life for us;
and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers.
If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods
saw that one of his brothers was in need,
but closed his heart to him,
how could the love of God be living in him?
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence.
After Jesus had decided to leave for Galilee, he met Philip and said, ‘Follow me.’ Philip came from the same town, Bethsaida, as Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’
“My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth”
We take comfort in the first reading today, where we see how God understands the backlash or the consequences we will face in following Him. ‘You must not be surprised, brothers, when the world hates you’ and also mentions how we would be persecuted for doing what’s right simply because the other’s life is evil and ours good. It is so difficult to follow Christ in our world today, whether it be the fear of missing out, being labelled as the odd one out, losing friendships and relationships or seen as can be easily taken advantage of. Whatever it may be, we need “to be able to quieten our conscience in his presence, whatever accusations it may raise against us, because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.” When we cannot be condemned by our own conscience, we need not be afraid of ‘punishment’ from God.
The one thing I can testify to is that God provides. When we live our lives for Him, He gives us more than what we think we want but what we really need. A love that is real and active, God keeps His promise when He says that He came to give us life and life to the full. Indeed, He only desires the best for us, to lead a truly meaningful and purposeful life, not just to do good for society but to encounter His love, to be able to love as He loves and also to be loved by others. This is the love that is real and active, a love that no amount of money can buy, for it is a gift and it is this gift that God gives to us.
We will not be able to love as Christ loves until we ourselves have experienced His love. Today I’m urging to recommit to Him, wherever you are in your faith journey, whether even Catholic or not, to pray to once again encounter His love for you. There’s nothing else in this world worth living for. As we prepare for Epiphany, may we also be like the wise men, who travelled far and not comfortably, to bring Him gifts though they probably wouldn’t get anything back in return. They eventually had to return by a different route after encountering the Lord, which resulted in a conversion of hearts and transformation of lives. Live Jesus in our hearts forever. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for this renewal, this renewed faith and passion as we continue in our ministries and communities, help us to encounter you and your love in the people that we meet and pray that we also bring you to those we meet daily.
Thanksgiving: Thank your Lord, for understanding us, thank you for loving us so much that you humbled yourself to being born as a child in the manger and eventually for dying on the cross for our salvation. May we give our lives to you just as you have given yours to us.