In the first reading today, St. John in his usual, direct fashion continues to discribe that act of choosing in the starkest possible lainguage. As he describes it, we are either children of God who do not sin, or children of the Evil One who sin. What distinguishes us are our actions. They are either evil or righteous. For St. John, there is no third, middle category. All our actions are one or the other.
Perhaps we need to be forced to sort our actions this way.
In the book Ther magical art of tidying up, the author uses this same methodology. She forces clients to take, for example, all of their shirt and put them in a pile on the floor. Then, one by one, they have to pick them up and decide, keep or don’t keep. You keep only the ones you will actually wear.
There is no third option of shoving it in the back of the closet or basement.
St. John wants to us look at all of our choices in that same fashion, In every choice, I choose evil or just.
The word he uses for evil is poneros. It comes from the word for pain. Is the action hurtful, to self or other? All our actions have consequences. What we say, what we eat, how we spend our free time – all things have some lasting impact on ourselves or others. Even a smal injury is an injury or in the words of St. John, evil.
Our other choice is dikaios, righteous, in accord with God’s law.
All day every day each of us must decide, through our actions, whose child we are: child of God or child of the Evil One.
The language sounds stark or even extreme, but perhaps we need that kind of language to keep us on the right path.