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.
We tend to think of hatred as the opposite of love, but today's reading invites us to look at it from a different angle. Emotions like hatred or anger are seen as rooted in something else, fear.
The economy, terrorism, the possibility of a major change in how we deal with health care all of these things filled our 2009 with fear, and the fear often turned into anger and replaced civilized debate with scenes like the town halls.
As the new year begins this first reading reminds us all that we are called to constantly examine our hearts, and pray for the grace to be freed from all fear, so that we may live constantly in the love of God.