The Sixth Day within the Octave of Christmas

Reading 1 John 2:12-17
Gospel Luke 2:36-40

Do not love the world or the things of the world.

Throughout the weekdays of Christmastide, the First Reading is taken from the First Letter of Saint John. In one sense, it can seem in listening to the letters of John that he treats of a very few number of themes, repeating them over and over. However, these themes—love, light, and life—are repeated and are simple because God is simple.

History tells us that St. John wrote his New Testament letters in his old age. Remember that he was the only one of the Apostles (excepting Judas, of course) not to be martyred. As so many older persons do, with advancing age John realized the simplicity of the Gospel. Advanced age allows one to see that so many of the things we believe are important when younger are shadows and illusions.

In today’s First Reading addresses children, fathers, young men: to all of them as something of a patriarch, as the last remaining Apostle of Jesus. He’s speaking simply and bluntly about priorities, and in the midst of his teaching he warns them about “the world”. If St. John speaks simply about God, he also speaks simply—if not as often—about “the world” as the alternative to God. We as children of God can live for God, or for the world, but not for both. In our modern world where we tell ourselves that it’s possible to “have it all”, we need St. John’s message of simplicity: we cannot have both God and the world.