This brief reading concludes chapter four of Saint John’s first letter. It has the merit of brevity. It also wraps up an important biblical theme: gratitude.
God loves us so much. Do we in turn offer love to others? If not the same love, the sense of self-sacrifice and mercy, then the best approximation we can muster? If so, we probably won’t utter a word of hate.
Perhaps in form I when a confessor deals with ingratitude, envy, or the surging of emotions in sinful thoughts or actions against another person, this reading hits home:
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
In this is love brought to perfection among us,
that we have confidence on the day of judgment
because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love drives out fear
because fear has to do with punishment,
and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates (their) brother (or sister), he (or she) is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother (or sister) whom he (or she) has seen
cannot love God whom he (or she) has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love (their sister or) brother.
Clearly, gratitude is a cultivated virtue. The believer becomes aware of the love of God. We return God’s love. God’s desire–his explicit commandment–is that we love others.
Much ado is made of the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places. Not much movement is afoot in Christian circles to post the commandment we have from Jesus:
Whoever loves God must also love sister or brother.
Such positive commandments are sometimes difficult for some to swallow. We have a harder time pointing fingers at transgressors and have much, much work to do on our own part. And there’s probably a wisdom in that demand.