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. 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 within it are good indeed?
But, of course, the world poses as many challenges to a really good life as benefits. In today’s first reading the author, sometimes called “John, the presbyter” or “John, the elder,” warns his readers of its pitfalls. His “children” are the members of the church community. The “fathers” are veteran Christians who have long accepted the faith. They know well the love of God experienced in Jesus Christ. The “young men” are newcomers to Christianity. They have overcome the allurements of sin which keep others from committing themselves to Christ. Old and young alike have to stand on guard against these temptations which are named: 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?