In the passage that we read today from the First Letter of St. John, he tells the believers not to love the world or the things of the world; rather they were to love God. The word “love” in English carries with it connotations that are not part of the Greek understanding of this word. The Greek meaning would equate love with loyalty. So we could read this passage by substituting that concept for the word “love.” “Do not remain loyal to the world or the things of the world. If anyone is loyal to the world, loyalty to the Father is not in him.”
As I mentioned yesterday, St. John was writing to confront the situation or issues that were confronting his community, specifically, the heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics were, in fact, separating themselves from the Christian community. So the issue of loyalty is uppermost in John’s mind.
As I read this reading this morning, I could not help but think of how fractured we have become as a community. People seem to be spending so much time and energy on the differences that exist between us rather than accentuating the fact that we are all the same in the eyes of God. We are God’s children. We are all sinners who have been saved by God’s love. We are all members of the human family, and is some cases, members of the same Christian community.
A Franciscan friar who has since gone to his eternal reward once told me something that I have never forgotten. He said, “God created hell for the people who could not live together here on earth.” That notion has stayed with me. At the time, I was working in the African-American community, and he was working in the Native American community. We had been talking about some of the difficulties we had been experiencing because of racial prejudice. However, like John’s situational reflections, my confrere’s statement speaks to the dissension we experience no matter what the reason.
Differences do exist. There is no denying them. However, the Eucharist is a sacrament of unity. It unites us with Jesus and with one another. The very word “communion” means “with unity.” Let this be our prayer and our intention today as we encounter our Lord in the Eucharist.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator