One of my favorite books of the Bible is the First Letter of John.
It is so richly centered and focused on the Lord Jesus, and it shows us how true belief in Jesus must result in love. “Love each other” we hear in I Jn 4:7. Of all the things that we do and believe as parishioners of St. Gregory the Great, love is at the heart of who we are. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once described love as the “style” of the believer, in a talk he gave in St. Peter’s Square in 2010. Is there no love in your heart? Then you do not know God, John tells us. May this teaching challenge and inspire us!
For St. John, furthermore, love is not fundamentally about warm feelings. I like greeting card stores as much as anyone else; I go to the Hamilton Marketplace every so often to look for cards or gifts for family members or to look for decorations to put around the rectory offices or other places. For St. John though, love must be grounded and rooted explicitly in the person of Jesus Christ, the Commandments and truth. To not love our neighbor/brother/sister is a serious matter; it is a sin for which we will one day be held accountable by God in some way. Love is bold and self-sacrificing; it is Christ giving His own life for us on the Cross forgiving us of our sins!
We learn these profound lessons and many more from the First Letter of John. May they help us to live out our unofficial motto here at St. Greg’s: “Where there is love, great things happen.”