Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Little Something Extra...Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Who We Are and What We Do 

Today's Second Reading may be taken from the First Letter of St. John, chapter 3, verses 1-2 and 21-24. The Church seems to have constructed this reading to show us both who we are in Christ and what we must do as a result. 

Let's first examine who we are in Christ, according to this text. 

St. John first tells us that we are the beloved of God. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us...” John encourages. The Father has generously poured out His love upon us, not because we have deserved it but because He longs to give it. The Greek word for “has bestowed” here is dedōken. It implies a free gift, something that greatly benefits the receiver. Further, the verb is in perfect tense, which gives it a special emphasis in the Greek. The perfect tense highlights an action, setting it in the foreground as something highly significant that must be noticed. 

Because the Father has given us His love, John continues, “we may be called the children of God.” We assume the name of children, family members, heirs, people who are cared for, nourished, and protected by God. But John doesn't stop there. We are not just called children of God, he says. We are children of God. This is so important that he says it twice. We are the children of God. 

As children of the Father, we find ourselves misunderstood by the world. The world does not know God, John explains, so how can it know His children? We Christians face trials in the world, which often scorns our beliefs, our values, and our moral standards. We are taunted, mocked, and persecuted for being God's children, but we remain so just the same, for we know that belonging to the family of God provides meaning and love that the world can never give. 

If we are the beloved children of God, then, what must we do to accept this high status and fulfill it worthily? John tells us. We must keep God's commandments, and these are simple. We must believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and we must live out our faith in love toward one another. Faith and love. 

When we obey God, we remain in Him, and He remains in us. We participate in His divine life, and He dwells within our souls. The Spirit works actively in our lives, and we have great confidence that God hears and responds to our prayers. 

We are God's beloved children. That's who we are. We behave like God's children in faith and love. That's what we do. Then our relationship with God in Christ grows ever stronger, deeper, and richer until that day comes when, as John assures us, “...we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is” face to face in our Heavenly home.

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