The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
(I John 2:12-17; Luke 2:36-40)
Reading the First Letter of John during Christmas season corrects tendencies to exaggerate the goodness of life on earth. Food abounds and drink flows during the holidays. Many people take vacations or just stay at home to rest. It is also a time for recreation -- movies and, for the more vigorous, maybe skiing or bowling. Would some not say that the world and all that is within it are good indeed?
But, of course, the world poses at least as many challenges to Christian life as it presents benefits. In today’s first reading the author, sometimes called “John, the presbyter” or “John, the elder,” warns Christians of its pitfalls. His “children” are the members of his church community. The “fathers” are the men and women who have long accepted the faith. They know well the love of God which comes through Jesus Christ. The “young men” are newcomers to Christianity. They have overcome the allurements to sin which can hold others from commitment to Christ. Both groups have to stand on guard against the world’s temptations which remain the triple threats of lust, envy, and pride.
As we come to the end of the year, we might ask ourselves how we have fared against the three great nemeses. Do we seek God’s assistance when lustful desires enter our thoughts? Do we thank God for what we have, or do we constantly look to our neighbors for what we lack? Do we remind ourselves daily that we live to serve God, not to be served by others?