The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
A good many books, movies and magazines enjoy presenting alternative and revisionist views of Jesus to us. They will claim that he was married, or that he had brothers according to the flesh, or that he was an opponent of organized religion, and so on. One of the reasons that we may comfortably and quickly dismiss such claims is that their authors have too often failed to take seriously this point from 1 John: “The way we may be sure that we know Jesus is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” True knowledge of Christ is a fruit of obedience to his teaching, including his moral teaching, his teaching about himself, about his Church and about his sacraments. Someone who wants a PhD specializing in the historical Jesus, but who is unconcerned with obeying, personally, his teaching, is on a fool’s errand.
“But whoever keeps [Jesus’] word,” 1 John continues, “the love of God is truly perfected in him.” This errand, unlike that of the fool, is wise, fruitful and perfective: to keep the word of God. Recall the monks and the nuns who labor at just this task with single-minded zeal and devotion: to keep the word of God. This leads to perfection of love and union, as it is written in 1 John: “this is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.” Keeping God’s word, knowing Him and loving Him, and keeping His commandments are all inextricably connected. The lynch pin, of course, is divine grace, which is the best Christmas gift of all.