Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday word, 12 Jan 2008

Saturday after Epiphany (12 Jan 2008) 1Jn 5. 14-21; Ps 149; Jn 3. 22-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Practical, Practiced and Lived

No one can know precisely the world of the Letters of John. We do know that these three letters indicate conflict within one particular community, and their conflict led to division: some went out from us./1/

Acquainted as we are with current events involving conflict within groups, leading even to bloodshed, the community of the Letters of John demonstrated something rare: those who remained prayed for those who sinned, that is, separated themselves from the community. Plus--and this was the focus of the First Letter of John--the community members sought to renew and deepen their identity, their faithful dependence on God in Jesus by their Spirit.

People of all cultures focus on outsiders more than on themselves. We do. The First Letter of John focused not on those who went out but on themselves. This letter encouraged them to renew their identity in Jesus.

Christian identity involves more than correct doctrine, as important as right believing is. Christian identity is practical, practiced and lived.
Sin is the word in this letter which means not practicing and living one’s belief that God gives life.

The deadly sin means entrusting one’s life to one’s perfect striving rather God. When we do that we separate ourselves from the community even if we physically stand inside it. Families understand that, religious orders do, too, because we’ve all experienced bodily presence yet real absence. Father Francis, a Kenyan priest in his divided homeland recently summarized how Christian identity and life shape presence: “It is not enough to kneel and pray. We tell parishioners that whatever they do, they must do something that will affect peace somehow.”/2/

The gospel gave another image. In Jewish tradition in Jesus’ time, the best man--the friend of the bridegroom--planned the wedding. He was in synch with the groom and was more prominent or less prominent as needed. We are all friends of the Messiah. Growing more in synch with Jesus is each one’s vocation. That’s worth making a New Year’s resolution.

Resolutions very often have practical sides: doing more of this or less of that; becoming trimmer; more adept; more patient; and the like. Growing more in synch with our Messiah and living more deliberately his way pay off not only for us. Living our identity affects our world, which needs Christians to engage it, pray for it and actively seek its good.
/1/ 1John 2. 19.
Wiki-image is used under the GFDL.

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