Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another place to stay

As the week began St. John advised us to remain in Jesus. In today's first reading he explains the alternative when he writes, "Whoever does not love remains in death."

On the surface it may sound simple, after all, which of us does not love someone.  It becomes much more difficult when we remember who it is that we are expected to love. As Christians we are not given the luxury to love only those who love us, or to love only the ones we think of as good people. We are told that we must love even our enemies.

This is not some crazy, looking at the world through rose colored glasses. I think of the recently deceased Kim Jong il.  I pray that at some point before his death he came to see honestly the life he had lived and felt some sense of remorse and so might have opened his heart to the mercy of God.

Christian love does not mean that we must feel for all people what we feel for friends and family, that would be absurd. It does mean that we cannot wish evil on another, we can't take pleasure in another's failure or pain, even if they were evil. We cannot enjoy when someone falls down. We, like God, must wish for the salvation of all.

John presents a stark simple binary choice: remain in Jesus or remain in death. I suspect most of us undulate. Hopefully, most of the time remaining we remain in him, and only occasionally allowing our hearts slip over to the other side.  St. John challenges us to be attentive throughout the day, to the unloving remark or action, that tells us that we have split from remaining in Christ so that we can quickly call ourselves back, from the darkness into the light.