For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." These famous lines from A TALE OF TWO CITIES came to mind as I read these verses. Certainly, the passage is talking about Christ's death and resurrection but we are also asked to lay down our lives for others. What does this mean?
When I stopped to think about it, many are asked to make the ultimate sacrifice for others. Perhaps you read the poignant speech that President Nixon would have given had the astronauts of Apollo 11 been stranded on the moon on July 20, 1969. They would have sacrificed their lives for humanity and for further knowledge of outer space. Then I thought about members of the military, policemen, firemen and anyone who puts his life on the line every day for others.
What about the rest of us? When we have children, we lay down our own lives and needs for at least 18 years to raise healthy, well-balanced children. If we have aging parents, we become their caregivers, as they first cared for us. Spouses who care for ill spouses fall into the same category as do any relatives caring for another. The passage states that any time we feel pity for someone in need and put those feelings into action, we show God's love. Many professions allow us to serve others first.
Perhaps we can never really love the way God loves us, but here on earth we have the opportunity to show unbridled love to our brothers and sisters, our relatives and friends. May we do it always.
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for allowing our astronauts in 1969 to glimpse a small portion of the beautiful, love-filled heaven that awaits us all. Amen.