(I John 4:11-18; Mark 6:45-52)
Surveys show that most Americans believe that heaven exists and that they will have a place in it. They hold to these beliefs apparently without regard to what they actually do. Is it to be presumed, therefore, that they are living the perfection of love described in today’s reading from the First Letter of John? The reading states quite boldly that “confidence on the day of judgment” marks a perfect life.
To answer the question some context for the letter should be given. Its author is exhorting his community not to follow a renegade group. He gives evidence that this group lives in a liberatine way probably because its members believe that they are saved by the mere fact that the Son of God came into the world. The author, to the contrary, shows that following Jesus’ teaching is also a requirement for salvation.
We too must be careful about presumption of attaining eternal life as well as of losing hope that it exists at all. After all, to be human means, in part, having the freedom to reject God’s love. It is all right to hope that every human being accepts God in her or his heart of hearts. However, we should strive to manifest His love in all our thoughts, words, and actions.