Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday word, 03 Jan 2007

Christmas Weekday (03 Jan 2007) 1 Jn 2. 29-3.6; Ps 98; Jn 1. 29-34
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
An Evangelical For Catholics

The day after Christmas Jim Wallis, the Evangelical Christian preacher of note, reminded every Christian that “Christ’s Divinity Should Inspire Humility, Not Arrogance.” Faith is no idea. Faith modifies life: “faith life is [God’s self-]gift that brings us into a personal, loving union with” the Trinity./1/ God always graces us to respond to God’s invitation in Christ Jesus by their Spirit. Because we Catholics affirm that we cannot but agree with Dr. Wallis when he said, “Those who believe that Jesus was the Son of God should be the most loving, compassionate, forgiving, welcoming, peaceful, and hungry for justice people around--like Jesus.”/2/

We seek to fashion our lives on the truth as Jesus revealed it by his life. A temptation always accompanies standing for the truth: it is easy to think of oneself as better than one who is different or who holds a differing view. The community of the beloved disciple, who received the Letters of John were led by someone who refused to succumb to that temptation.

The First Letter of John is a clouded window on one divided, early Christian community. Though clouded, the letter is a window none-theless. Its author used strong language--like liar--to describe anyone of those who had gone out from them by refusing to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. (We don’t know the manner of disbelieving.) He was not sarcastic nor did he vilify them. In the ancient world slander was a conventional tool used to deflate one’s opponents. The First Letter of John is striking in that it does not bear that tone. The elder was convinced that one was not pure by contrast to the those of the liar and antichrist. Purity was the gracious result of hoping on God, who is pure--indeed, who is Purity itself.

Responding to God’s Messiah, to the Lamb of God to whom the Baptizer pointed, is living one’s life dependent upon Messiah Jesus, who is grace in flesh and blood and who abides with us by his Holy Spirit. Shaping our lives upon Jesus’ faith is how we invite others closer to him.

1. United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Washington, D.C., 2006, p. 37. This 1-volume resource is excellent both as an introduction to the Catholic faith life as well as a tool for lifelong catechesis.

2. The title above above links to his remark in context.

Photo from Wikimedia. As a work of a National Park Service employee it is in the public domain. See Ownership in the NPS disclaimer for more information.

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