Daily Reflection
January 3rd, 2004
John O'Keefe
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1 John 2:29–3:6
Psalm 98:1, 3cd-4, 5-6
John 1:29-34

On of the things that many people in the Christian community find most difficult is accepting God’s love for them.  We tend to have a fairly well-developed sense of our own failure and it is easy to read the opening lines of the first reading with a sense of dread.  To declare that “everyone who acts in righteousness is begotten by him” seems to presume that anyone who does not so act is not begotten by God.  We many find our selves continually engaged in a frenzied effort to fix our faults.

Now, I would never say that such an effort is not worth while.  The Christian life does, in fact, require that we try to improve and grow spiritually and morally. Yet, at a recent faith sharing meeting, a good friend of mine reflected that this improvement and growth is possible precisely because God loves us; it does not make God love us.  The possibility of growth toward righteousness depends upon God first loving us.  This, it seems to me is what the second verse of the first reading is all about—“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that  we may be called the children of God.” 

I also suspect that this is why the framers of the lectionary paired this reading with John the Baptist’s declaration that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  It is so easy to rattle off the Christian proclamation that Jesus died for our sins, but it is quite another to recognize what this means for us personally.  At the very least, it means what the author of 1 John understood: God is working in us for our transformation.  “What we shall be has not yet been revealed.”  No wonder the psalmist invites us to sing a new song to the Lord.

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