Thursday after Epiphany
(I John 4:19-5:4; Luke 5:12-16)
In a movie adaptation of Les Miserables, Jean Valjean writes his wife a letter from prison. A largely unlettered man, he only manages to say, “I love you,” over and over again. The first letter of John may sound equally simplistic. However, its meaning is as profound as its lesson is worth repeating.
The author of the letter knows how the world can corrupt a person. For this reason he underlines the need to keep God’s commandments. He argues that this is not a difficult task. Since the essence of the commandments is love, keeping them brings one delight. “Not necessarily true,” one might object after trying to please a difficult person. But John locates the object of love not in other people but in God. Remembering the Father’s gift and the Son’s crucifixion makes our sacrifices for others seem trivial.
As defrocked Christmas trees dot empty lots, Christmas becomes a flickering memory. Our resolve to live each day with the love we felt on Christmas can grow similarly vague. These readings from the First Letter of John, then, serve as critical reminders. They tell us how God has given us Christ so that we might care for one another.