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January 2, 2019: Sts. Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops & Doctors of the Church

Reading 1 John 2:22-28
Gospel John 1:19-28

And now, children, remain in Him….

With all due respect to the Little Flower, an argument could be made that her “Little Way” was first taught by the Beloved Disciple, St. John the Evangelist and Apostle. At the very least, her Little Way is rooted in the scriptural doctrine of the Beloved Disciple. It would be interesting to explore the writings of the Little Flower for references to those scripture verses written by the Beloved Disciple which the Church proclaims during Christmastide.

One of the themes of Christmastide that lies at the heart of the Beloved Disciple’s Little Way is the theme of childhood. This theme has at least two dimensions to it. The first is that the eternal, divine Word became a tiny, helpless infant. The second is that each Christian is herself meant during Christmastide to become a child once again.

In today’s First Reading, while it’s true that the word “children” is heard only once, the Johannine doctrine of discipleship as childhood is rooted in the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Christ is the exemplar of the disciple’s childhood, and it is within the divine Son made Flesh that each of us may live as the Father’s child.

One of the words in today’s First Reading that speaks specifically to being God the Father’s child in Christ is the verb “remain”. Six times in this passage of only seven verses, the Beloved Disciple uses the word “remain” or “remains”. But St. John exhorts those whom he addresses as “Beloved” in two distinct ways. As we seek during Christmastide to grow as the Father’s children, we need to tend to both forms of “remaining”.

The first concerns that which is meant to remain within the Christian. In today’s First Reading, the Beloved Disciple speaks twice to this point. He exhorts the “Beloved”: “Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.” We can consider this as being the divine Word remaining within the Christian disciple. Then, St. John also reminds the “Beloved” that “the anointing that you received from Him remains in you”. We can consider this in terms of the Holy Spirit, who is the source of all divine anointings.

The second form of remaining concerns where we ourselves are meant to remain: that is, within the life of the Most Holy Trinity. Three times in today’s First Reading St. John speaks to this point. Any one of these would make for fruitful meditation throughout this day, but we might choose a single sentence from 1 John 2:24, where the two forms of remaining come together, or we might say, co-inhere: “If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.”