1 John 4:7-10
Epiphany: The Manifestation, Continued
We continue the celebration of the Epiphany, the "manifestation" of Jesus to the world. In the welcome of the Magi by the Holy Family of Bethlehem, Jesus is indeed proclaimed the loving Savior of all people!
Today’s Scriptures are proper for the season, and drawn from the First Letter of St. John and St. Mark’s Gospel. Both remind us in special ways that God is most gracious in loving us in the person of Jesus.
St. John makes the point quite clearly when he says that love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us and sent his Son as an offering for our sins. We didn’t do anything to merit the sending of God’s Son…God took the initiative…gratuitously, freely given.
In his life and ministry, Jesus showed this gratuitous love in his every word and deed. Jesus freely taught the vast crowd, not like a contracted professor at a famous university being paid to teach – but as an act of love, free of charge. He even went one step further: he miraculously fed the crowd with just five loaves of bread and two fish…and had lots of leftovers after having fed over five thousand people! That kind of love can’t be bought or forced.
Jesus’ gratuitous love continues to reach out to all people of all times and places, inviting them to live and share His love. Today we celebrate the feast of a "contemporary" disciple: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the 19th Century foundress of the first women’s religious congregation in the United States, and the first native-born U.S. citizen to be canonized. Her special love for God included families, children, the poor of her day: an outstanding example of generosity, service, and holiness — rooted in Jesus.
We recognize that everything we have comes as a gift from God: our lives, our faith, our vocation, even the energy and talents with which we serve God and earn our living here on earth! What Jesus did for the crowd He continues to do for us: he graciously teaches us through the Scriptures and feeds us with his own Body and Blood. The best of Gifts!!
May our New Year’s resolutions help build our personal resolve to live lives of gratitude and service, in the person of Jesus.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.