As we continue to listen to St. John today, you will notice that the two “watch words” of this letter are once again very prominent – “know” and “remain.” (Perhaps your translation uses “abide” instead of “remain.”) So as we read this selection, it is helpful to remember that John is writing about a specific group who consider themselves separate from the community because of their “knowledge” of Jesus.
St. John also raises the issue of sin in today’s reading. Remember that this group believed that they were NOT sinners because of their knowledge of Jesus. Because they deemed themselves sinless, they felt justified in separating themselves from the community. However, they also believed that Jesus did not redeem them since they didn’t need to be redeemed since they were sinless. It is hard to imagine such arrogance, but it is part of our early Church history.
St. John reminds us of the fact that we are all sinners. Painful though it might be to admit, it is a fact of our human existence. We all needed Jesus to be our redeemer. However, let us never forget that God does not send us a redeemer because of our need. Jesus was sent because of God’s love for us. One of the philosophical principals we were taught in the seminary is that God was the “prime mover.” All that this means is that God acts rather than reacts. So even if we had not needed to be redeemed, God would still have sent his Son. Because we did need a redeemer, one could say that God “killed two birds with one stone.” God’s love for us and our need for a redeemer were met in the same person, Jesus.
So St. John reminds us that sinners though we are, we are saved by Jesus as long as we remain with Jesus. I find great consolation in this message. Sinner though I am, I can still claim to be one of God’s children. The responsorial psalm says it best: “All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.”
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator