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How Not to Be a Liar

January 7, 2021   Thursday after Epiphany (Lectionary: 215)

Reading I   1 Jn 4:19–5:4
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.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

Responsorial Psalm   72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17
R. (see 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
May they be prayed for continually;
day by day shall they bless him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Alleluia   Lk 4:18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Lk 4:14-22
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.

By Paula Shute 

I think Christ is calling me to expand my heart because this was the verse that stuck out to me in today’s readings: “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.”  St. John highlights those that don’t reconcile their words with their actions.

I pridefully dismissed the idea that that could be me, until I thought a little longer. 

To quote Shakespeare, I think I sometimes mean “much in [my] vows, but little in [my] love.” Ironically, I’ve often applied this quote to the men in my life and laughed over this application of a fictionalized stereotype to real people.  These real people, however, are good, kind, and imperfect children of God - just like me.  

I have claimed to love God and then turned around and uttered some negative stereotypes about my brothers-in-Christ because I’ve been hurt by a select few over the years.

But haven’t I also hurt some of them? Yes, I have. 

I love God. And I want to say that honestly and sincerely every time I say it. But in order not to be a liar, in order not to only mean much in my vows, in order to truly mean much in my love, I must love my brothers-in Christ for who they are, not what I can get from them. 

“Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

May God grant us the grace to love the opposite sex with true selfless love and may God heal all of our imperfect, wounded hearts in His perfect timing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Paula Shute loves wine, coffee, cats, and Jesus---not in that order. Her full time work is currently in Alumni Relations. Part-time, you’ll find her teaching theology, directing Shakespeare, and attempting to make the world a better place (with a few complaints along the way). She’s an INFP, so idealism comes easy. As she’s grown the past few years, her heart simply longs to rest in the peace from the Father.

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