Thursday after Epiphany

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Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.

When the Peanuts character Charlene told her brother Linus he could not be a doctor because he doesn’t love mankind, he famously retorted, “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand.”

What Linus and his ilk need is a religion that embraces their creed. It’s not ours.

But I meet lots of people in the VA hospital, former Catholics, who say something similar: “I love Jesus; I don’t need a church.”

That’s like saying, “My head is okay, I don't care about the rest of my body." 

Jesus Christ cannot and will not be separated from his church, no more than a head can be separated from its body. It’s inconceivable. God will never violate the covenant he, of his sovereign freedom, has given to us.

More often than not, when a New Testament author speaks of a brother or sister, he is speaking of a fellow Christian. Non-Christians and non-churched are known as neighbors; they deserve charity but of a different kind.

Saint John warns us, "Anyone who says 'I love God' but hates his (fellow Christian) is a liar." 
A winter sunset at Lake Mt. St. Francis

In fact we can measure with great accuracy our love of God by looking around us in church. Whom do I love? Whom do I despise? That examination of conscience, if practiced religiously, would restore frequent confession. Those infamous Saturday line-ups would reappear, full of snarling, disgruntled Catholics. But our Sunday mornings would be far more pleasant as we joyfully gathered for the Resurrection of our Communion.

Every generous act begins with, "We love God because he first loved us." 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.