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January 4th – Christmas
Readings: 1 Jn 3:7-10; Jn 1:35-42.
1/ First Reading: RSV 1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. 10 By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother.
2/ Gospel: RSV John 1:35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
I. THEME: How to avoid of straying from the right path.
Many of us had experience of straying from the right path and endured its consequences; for example, by missing an exit on highway, it can take us an hour to find our way back and miss our appointment. To avoid of straying, it is better for us to check the address on the map in advance, and to ask experienced people about possible obstacles on the way.
Today readings help us to have experience to avoid straying from the right path on the way to the ultimate goal of our life. In the first reading, St. John taught us two things: First, the one we need to learn from him more than anyone is Christ, because he possesses God’s wisdom and the experience of life to show us the perfect and sure way to the Father. Second, we must avoid the way of darkness and sin of the devil and the world. In the Gospel, John Baptist showed the way for his two disciples to Christ so that they could learn directly from him. Jesus also encouraged them “to come and see” his way of living.
1/ Reading I: He who does right is righteous, as Christ is righteous.
1.1/ Two ways of life: to live righteous or to live in sins. According to St. John, there are only two ways of life: God’s way of light and the devil’s way of darkness. Walking in the way of light is to walk in the truth, and one shall find joy, peace, happiness and eternal life. Walking in
the way of darkness is to walk in the falsity of the devil and the world. Whoever walks in this way shall endure sadness, insecurity, and not reach the eternal life. In today passage, St. John showed us two leaders of these two ways.
(1) Christ is the leader of the way of light: St. John advised his disciples to come to Christ and to imitate him: “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous.” Christ came to the world to destroy the works of the devil.
(2) The devil causes people to sin and wants them to become his members: According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the fall of our ancestors in the garden presupposed the fall of devil. Lucifer must fall before Adam and Eve, and out of jealousy, he tempted them to sin; and they felt in his trap. St. John seems to have the same thought with St. Thomas when he stated: “He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.”
1.2/ How to live righteous and to avoid sins:
(1) One must be born anew: It is certain that St. John didn’t say a Christian can’t commit sin; because he made a difference between the sin that brings death and the sin that doesn’t bring death later in his Letter. It is probable that St. John wanted to mention the sin that brings death in this passage. If a Christian completely put his trust in God, he can’t commit the sin that brings death; because “the seed of God,” which is Christ, lives in that person. Moreover, even if he committed a mortal sin, he can be forgiven by making a confession. The sin that brings death is only for those who are despair or assume God’s forgiveness without repentance.
(2) One must keep the commandment of love: Who loves his brethren, that person is God’s child, who doesn’t love his brethren, that one is the devil’s child.
2/ Gospel: Jesus said to them: “Come and see!”
2.1/ John Baptist introduced Christ to his two disciples: The passage reported: “The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” When one introduced his disciples to a master who is better than him, he accepts he can lose his disciples. John Baptist didn’t want to keep his disciples for himself, he introduced them to a much better master than him. This showed John concerned with his disciples’ benefits, not his. How many of us have John Baptist’s attitude! We mentioned the historical background of the image “Lamb of God” yesterday. Christ himself was the Lamb, the sacrifice to take away people’s sins.
2.2/ The reaction of the two disciples: The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. John Baptist’s disciples might be shy and didn’t know how to open their conversation with him, so they silently followed him. To help them, Jesus opened his conversation: “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
We can recognize three important factors for a person to find out and to follow God: First, there must be one who invites people. John Baptist pointed the way for his disciples to come to Christ. Secondly, the looking person must act or do something. John’s disciples must overcome their shyness and reluctance to follow Christ. Lastly, there must be encouragement from God. Christ opened the encounter first and invited them “to come and see.”
The question Jesus put to them, “What do you seek?” is the most important question in life. The answer for this question shall help us to recognize why we should look for Him or not. If the answer is to find lots of money, fame or power, we should not come to God, because He shall not satisfy our desire. If the answer is to find the eternal life, we should come to Him. He shall help us to reach our destiny.
2.3/ Christ’s invitation: He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
Others can talk about God or introduce us to Him; but to have a relationship with God, one needs to come directly to Him. Only when one has his experience with God, he shall fully be convinced by Him. The two disciples responded to Jesus’ invitation, they came and lived with him the whole day. The Jewish tenth hour is about our 4 PM.
2.4/ Christ’s disciple became one who invites others: “One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). To love someone is to wish the best for that person. Andrew met the Messiah who is the most important figure for the Jews. Andrew loved his brother, and he introduced him to Jesus.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
We need to know our ultimate goal of life and the way to reach this goal. If we don’t know neither the goal nor the way, we must learn from those who knew. Jesus knew the goal and passed through that way; he can surely help us to reach our destiny.