January 4, 2017
(St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious)
Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the Devil, because the Devil has sinned from the beginning. 1_Jn_3:7-10
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jn_1:35-42
There are several interesting observations in today’s readings, as we continue hearing from John’s Gospel and his First Letter.
The first thing we notice, is – all that talk about sin in our first reading. And if we were listening closely, we may have noticed how John said, “Whoever sins belongs to the Devil.” And then he continues, saying that, “No one who is begotten by God commits sin.”
Those are some pretty disheartening statements. Especially when we realize that, in one way or another, we’ve all sinned, and unfortunately, we continue to do so.
And yet, if we think back to just a week ago, St. John said, a little earlier in this same letter, that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
But, that sounds a little contradictory.
So maybe we first need to find out, just who John is writing to.
You see, while John was away from some of the Churches he helped to establish, the message that he taught was beginning to become a little garbled. There were people who started a heresy called Docetism – that professed that Jesus was fully divine but not human. And then there was another heresy called Gnosticism that professed that Christ was just a stepping-stone to higher Knowledge of God.
So what we find is that all of John’s talk about sin was done to try to keep the faithful believers on the right track.
John said earlier in his letter, that “If we acknowledge our sins, Jesus is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.”
The Scripture scholars help clarify John’s apparent contradiction by helping us understand the difference between the sinfulness of a non-believer and that of a professed Christian.
They tell us that Christians do not escape sin, but they realize that when they do sin, they cease to live in Fellowship with God.
This is in contrast to the habitual sinner who has no remorse for his sin, and even commits it – fully aware that he is working against God. So John calls that habitual sinner “a child of the Devil,” while the errant Christian returns to Fellowship with God when he seeks the reconciliation that Jesus offers to all who Love Him. That’s being a Child of God.
So, as Christian children of God, we must always discern the difference between the Truth of God and the heresy of false teachings; keeping in mind, as Jesus taught us, that we are never to judge others, because we’re ALL Children of God, some people just may not realize it yet.
This Fellowship that we share with God, then, reflects, not only, our fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters, but our fellowship with – ALL our non-Christian neighbors, as well.
It’s a Fellowship of Love!
The second, yet related, interesting observation in today’s Readings comes from John’s Gospel description of Jesus’ earliest disciples.
You see, contrary to Matthew’s description of Jesus’ calling
of the disciples, here the disciples come to Jesus, on their own, and ask if they could follow Him.
And even more fascinating, is how in John’s Gospel – it’s the disciples who are building on this New Community, this Church, by calling others to follow, just as Andrew did with his brother Simon.
You see, Jesus didn’t initiate the following, but he did initiate the example!
And that example is so beautiful. It’s so enticing, so magnetic, that we too should want nothing more than to bring everyone we know this table. Everyone we know – to His Love, leaving sin behind, and being immersed in Fellowship with God and with one another!
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