- 1 John 5
When December 26 falls on a Sunday, a few important feasts each get bumped forward one day: St. Stephen to the 27th, St. John to the 28th, and the Holy Innocents to the 29th.
Today is the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. One of the twelve main disciples, John is also usually identified as “the one whom Jesus loved.” This indication only occurs in John’s Gospel, suggesting that the author (or attributed author) had a very special relationship with Jesus. In the New Testament there are also three letters attributed to John, though scholars disagree about whether this is the same John. There is also the Revelation to John (of Patmos), who is most certainly a different John.
With so many Johns, it can be difficult to sort out exactly whom we are celebrating today! But I do like this reading from today’s lectionary. I took one quarter of Greek at Seattle University last year, and during that quarter we began working our way slowly through the First Letter of John. We learned that John’s Greek was rather clunky and halting, but also basic and free of fancy vocabulary, which is why we beginners were able to delve into it pretty easily. It seems Greek was not John’s first language either.
“For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments.” That seems odd, doesn’t it? Since when does love depend on obeying commandments? Yet I think our inclination is to put the cart before the horse. I believe the intent is to show that when we obey God’s commandments, it’s a sign that we have loved God all along—that this is a natural response to that love. If we love God, what else would we want to do?
Today is also the fourth day of Christmas. Here’s the band Jars of Clay with “Love Came Down at Christmas.”