1 John 2:22-28
In today’s selection from the 1st Letter of John, we continue a reading that actually began with the feast of St. John the Evangelist, on December 27. However, today’s selection begins with what seems like a bit of acrimonious rhetoric (Perhaps the Iowa Caucuses are influencing this reflection….). The author asks, rhetorically, "Who is the liar?" Then, he answers his own question, "Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ." Strong talk for the author who began this letter by stating, "We are writing this so that our joy may be complete."
It is believed that 1 John is a response to a growing heresy, one which held that Jesus was not a truly human being, but a divine spirit or a divine apparition. This may be the logic behind the use of this text throughout the season that celebrates his incarnation, his birth, his entry into the human family through the Holy Family.
As we read the Christmas narratives of his birth, followed by the events of early childhood, including his flight to Egypt in order to escape Herod’s plotting to take away his life, we are immersed in the life of a real-life child, a truly human baby who was subject to the violence that human beings worked on each other.
So, we acknowledge that Jesus is truly God and human, Emmanuel; which is what the author of 1 John is striving to assert, with such conviction that in today’s reading, he has no qualms about naming those who would deny that the person, Jesus, is the Christ, are liars.
As we stand at the starting line of the new year, as we peer down the timeline of the year ahead, some with resolutions, some with optimism, some with caution or even anxiety about the year ahead, the Liturgical reading of the Gospel is a reminder to us that "there is one among you whom you do not recognize"; we need the reminder of our faith, of our liturgy, of our parish community, that Jesus walks among us and goes unrecognized because Jesus is with the poor, the sickly, the ignored, the hungry, and the homeless.
May we recognize the presence of Jesus in our lives throughout the new year 2012.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.