Sunday Scripture readings, April 11, 2021, Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy
1) Acts 4:32-35 Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
2) 1 Jn 5:1-6 Gospel: Jn 20:19-31
The love God shows us empowers us to love others
The biblical book from which our second reading is drawn is not always easy to understand, although it is quite easy to read. The letter called 1 John consists of five chapters of short statements about God, Jesus his Son, the Spirit and us.
Simple words — light, darkness, sin, commandments, children, life, love — are constantly repeated. The limited vocabulary and straightforward grammar of the Greek original are so basic that the letter is used as a primer for students of New Testament Greek.
Ah, but the meaning! The logic by which the author moves from sentence to sentence is often puzzling. Sometimes he says the reverse of what he has led us to expect.
Today’s reading is like this. John has just said that the way we can know if we’re truly loving God is by demonstrating it in love for our brothers and sisters (4:7-8, 11-12, 16, 20-21). Yet now John says, “In this way we know that we love the children of God: when we love God” (5:2).
So we know we really love God when we’re loving other people, and we know we really love other people when we’re loving God. John seems to be moving in a circle. I get dizzy reading this letter.
But perhaps there is something to be discovered by going around in this circle.
Whether we move forward or backward in this circle, we always have God on one side and our neighbor on the other. We can never disconnect one from the other. The two are bound together continuously like two sides of a ring — as though rings have sides.
In this circle, the love God shows us empowers us to love others, and the love we have for others is ultimately a love for the God who created them. The way we respond to God’s love for us is by loving the others whom God wants us to love — and loving them in the way he wants us to love them.
We love others because God commands us to love them, and he commands us to love them not merely in obedience to a command but out of genuine love — the love he has placed in our hearts. As we love the people we can see, we get closer to the God we can’t see. Around and around we go.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.