In the Church’s Lectionary some readings appear with frequency. Would you believe one is used at Penance, funerals, and baptisms, as well as Pastoral Care of the Sick?
Here it is:
See what love
the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
The closeness of this letter and fourth Gospel goes beyond the same name attached to each. The Gospel can be seen as an extended series of testimonies about Jesus. So much of the events are framed as witnesses speaking to the reader/listener. So also here: God the Father witnesses to us. We are called children–this is testimony to God’s love.
The world doesn’t understand this, according to Saint John. The world sees across the surface of things. When we are sick or dying, the witness of science is that our mortal bodies are damaged or decaying. It’s as simple as biology or entropy: the universe winds down. What else is there?
What else? The curtain will be lifted. We recover from illness and if serious, it’s like a rising from the dead. At the end of life, that elusive virtue of hope calls us. If we can tap into hope, the transition from the physical universe will find us embraced in a much clearer version of God’s love. When I get to the end of it of it all, sign me up for this reading, please.
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.