Tuesday: 7 January, 2013 –– Tuesday after Epiphany
First John 4:7–10 / Mark 6:34–44
How To Love
Biblical scholars like to segment Scripture. They focus on each book as a stand-alone text, which is appropriate and helpful on one level, but not to the extent that the unity of Scripture and the interdependence of one book with another is lost.
In the New Testament the Gospels give the story –– the historical setting and the mighty words and mighty deeds of Jesus Christ. The epistles (letters) give Apostolic interpretation to the story found in the Gospels. Neither stands alone.
When we read the exhortations in the letters we can be both bewildered and overwhelmed. In today’s epistle we are admonished to love one another. Then John gives the model: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world.... We are given the big picture. We are told what it means: [God] loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
That can seem a bit abstract, but what does love look like in our real world? There are so many opinions and distortions. Here is where we turn to the Gospel as it gives us a picture of God’s love in action: When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity....
Jesus knows the hunger of their hearts, so he began to teach them many things. But as the day wore on and the crowd had nothing to eat, Jesus also knew the hunger of their stomachs. So the One whose name is Love extended that love through a multiplication of fish and bread. There is no enmity between the spiritual and material –– the love of God loves the whole person.
Jesus is still extending his love as he gives himself to us in the semblance of bread, and as his very life enters ours we are transformed so that John can say: love one another.
In the Gospel we see it: In this way the love of God was revealed to us.
In the Epistle we have it identified and explained: In this way the love of God was revealed to us.
We are called to love –– like Jesus –– because he first loved us. Just like the New Testament is written, there is interdependence.
This is how to love.