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January 12, 2019: Christmas Weekday

Reading 1 John 5:14-21
Gospel John 3:22-30

Children, be on your guard against idols.

On this last weekday of the Christmas Season, our First Reading consists of the final eight verses of the First Epistle of Saint John. It seems to end on an odd note: “Children, be on your guard against idols.” St. John offers no words of farewell and gives no specific instructions.

Of course, the 21 New Testament books commonly called “epistles” were not written by their human authors according to a single format. St. Paul’s epistles are much closer in form to the manner in which you or I write a letter (or email) today. St. John, on the other hand, writes his first epistle about some general Christian beliefs: most especially God’s divine nature as Love.

The Beloved Disciple’s warning against idolatry, then, can be seen as a defense of true love. To love any creature in the manner in which we ought to love the Creator is idolatry. Even the most authentic of human loves (maternal, paternal, filial or spousal) is of a completely different caliber than a Christian’s love for the Most Blessed Trinity.

To put a human relationship before one’s relationship with God is to forget that God is in every sense the root of every authentic human love. Without putting one’s relationship with God first, human relationships wither on the vine; or to extend the Beloved Disciple’s metaphor, to harden into an idol.