In the first reading today St. John reminds us of just how much Jesus has simplified what is required of us.
We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Believe in Jesus and love one another how much simpler could it possibly get. And yet we seem to struggle.
Perhaps at least part of the problem is that we do not grasp the full meaning of the title by which we are addressed: agapetos, beloved. Love is for us Christians not a feeling but a theological virtue, it comes to us as gift from God. God's love is poured out on us, poured into us, and then we in turn share with others what we have received.
Notice that we are called agapetos, the love we receive is agape. It is not a love that yearns to possess. It is not a love fueled by our most primitive drives. It is the love that is other-centered, self-sacrificing. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son."
It is the superabundance of God's love made most fully visible in Jesus that is given to us, and which we are in turn called each and every day to share. It is a love that constantly turns away from self, and turns outward toward others, and by this the gospel does not mean friends and family. There are other Greek words for that love.
This love turns toward, the stranger, the enemy, the person from whom we can or will receive nothing in return.
In these last days of Christmas St. John reminds in the simplest terms what it means to be a Christian
Believe in Jesus. Love one another.