St. John Neumann, bishop
1 John 3:11-21 + Psalm 100 + John 1:43-51
January 5, 2013
“We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.” [1 John 3:14]
In today’s First Reading the Beloved Disciple shifts gears a bit. He continues to talk about divine love, which is the topic of all he writes. But today he focuses more on loving one’s brother, the “new commandment” he had briefly touched on in Chapter 2 (heard at Mass on December 29). Love is not divine love if we love only God. Divine love knows no limit. It is super-abundant and “catholic” (“universal”) in nature.
Jesus simplified the Ten Commandments, and the hundreds of precepts of the Torah, in teaching that all of them boil down to two commands: “Love God, and love your neighbor.” The Beloved Disciple is pointing out that if you carry out the first and not the second, that in truth you’re not even doing the first, because to love God is to will what He wills. God wills that all men be saved.
To love one’s “brother” (and of course, we should interpret this word as generously as Jesus defined “neighbor” through the Parable of the Good Samaritan) is not only to carry out a Corporal or Spiritual Work of Mercy for him. All works of mercy must be done to bring our brother or sister closer to salvation.