Wednesday of the Week after the Epiphany
(I John 4:11-18; Mark 6:45-52)
Brain scientists say that the instinctive response to threat is either fight or flight. Humans will stand up to their perceived adversaries if they think that they can overcome the intimidation. If they sense that their enemies are too much for them, they will run away. In today’s first reading, John the Presbyter offers another alternative.
John is trying to keep his community from falling apart. There has been a rift and a number of people have already left. In the so-called first letter, which might actually be a recorded sermon, John exhorts his people to love one another despite differences. He is not asking that they care about those who have abandoned the community, but that they bear with one another’s foibles. His reasoning is instructive. God has loved them when there was no reason to do so because they had all sinned. Now they should similarly love one another as a way of showing that they belong to God.
We may feel the urge to bolt our jobs, our faith communities, even our families because we do not feel duly appreciated. Such action would be a terrible betrayal of the love God has shown us. We must resist the temptation to either flee or fight. Rather we should imitate God’s example of love.