John’s first letter focuses on the greatest of the virtues, Love. He tells us that, “We should love one another.” Note that he does not say, “We must like one another.” Liking does not always come naturally, but love surpasses human limits. It rises above petty differences or even major ones—making us imitators of Jesus, Love personified. People can disappoint us, not meeting expectations and standards we like to impose. And it certainly can be vice-versa as well—we not being accepted or respected by others. But John is relentless: He goes on to say that we must love in more than words—which can be said rather glibly; he insists that we must “Love in deed, not in word or speech.” This may call for sacrifice on our part of time and energy, of forgiveness and generosity. In this Christmas season, we have Love incarnate as our guide.
By Carol Berg, OSB