The Twelfth Day of Christmas!
We are reminded today that Jesus not only came to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament, but also to undo the Fall of humanity. The loss of Eternal Paradise by our First Parents came through sin, and death became its result. “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Caine who belonged to the Evil One and slaughtered his brother.” (NAB, 1JN 3:11-12) Murder is clearly a sin and violation of the Law, but Jesus brought us a new Law of Love, where even the sin of anger, the basis and motivation behind murder, leads to the same judgment: “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” (MT 5:22) “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.” (1JN 3:15)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS the Gospel of Love, for Jesus is himself love eternal. We are all sinners and rightly deserve death, but we, as children of God, have received the Good News of Jesus with certainty, and “we know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” (3:14, 16, 18)
We have been culturally deceived by childhood movies and fairy tales, along with our cultural norms, into believing love should not entail sacrifice, that it’s supposed to be “happily ever after,” but the Truth of love can be found in the Passion of our Lord, in reflecting upon his great love, after having been physically and mentally tortured, beaten, humiliated, abused, abandoned, and crucified, while dying on the cross, he utters, “Father, forgive them.” (LK 5:34)
Lord, make me a person of forgiveness and mercy. I have been forgiven much, yet I hold back mercy, love, and forgiveness from others. Take away my anger and fill me with your love, your True love, love that knows sacrifice, love that knows You. To lay down myself means, at a minimum, to give up my selfishness, my desires, and my ego for love of you. Give me the grace and gifts I need, and when I am tempted, let me remember your Great Passion and see the Crucifix from which you spoke forgiveness. Amen.