Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Today’s reading from the First Letter of John is jam-packed with food for prayer. So what might we focus on? One question the reading brings to my mind is “What is my image of God?”
Sometimes I still imagine God as I did when I was very young; a grandfatherly, white-haired and bearded person seated on a throne in heaven, kind of like Santa Claus. Another favorite childhood image of mine is that of a superhero who is ready to jump into action whenever and wherever needed, like Superman. And then there is my more pessimistic image of a God who relentlessly tracks all that I do and don’t do so He can give me my just punishment. This is the God always ready to throw a lightning bolt at those who sin.
John’s answer to my question is very direct, simple and unlike the images above; “God is love.” So what does love look like? Paul says it so eloquently in his letter to the Corinthians. “Love is patient, love is kind… it does not seek its own interests… it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.”
This is also the image of God that is the ultimate grace of the first week of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. While the week starts with the grace of coming to know ourselves as sinners, this is not the end of the story. We also come to know God as loving, merciful, and always giving us life. Thank goodness God is love and His love does not depend on me earning it!
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.
You so loved us that you gave us your Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. You tell us, “Do not be afraid!” You are patient; you give us Jesus to guide us on the way to the promised land. He is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.
—Pope Francis, adapted from his Christmas HomilyPlease share the Good Word with your friends!