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To: All

From: 1 John 2:3-11

Keeping the Commandments


[3] And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his command-
ments. [4] He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar,
and the truth is not in him; [5] but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for
God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: [6] he who says
he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

[7] Beloved, I am writing to you no new commandment, but an old command-
ment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the world
which you have heard. [8] Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is
true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light
is already shining. [9] He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in
the darkness still. [10] He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it
there is no cause for stumbling. [11] But he who hates his brother is in the dark-
ness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because
the darkness has blinded his eyes.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

3-6. “By this we may be sure”: a phrase that occurs often in this letter (cf., e.g.,
2:5, 18; 3:19, 24), usually to preface clear criteria for distinguishing doctrinal
and moral truth from error. In this instance, it has to do with keeping the
commandments being a sign of true knowledge of God.

For St John, knowing God is not a merely intellectual exercise nor does he mean
that the immensity of God can be grasped by man’s limited understanding. It re-
fers to something much simpler and more important: knowing God means being
united to him by faith and love — by grace. If this letter puts so much emphasis on
knowing God (cf., e.g., 2:14; 3:1; 4:6-8; 5:20) or knowing Jesus Christ (cf. 2:13-
14; 3:6), it may be because the heretics (particularly the Gnostics) were boasting
of having attained special knowledge of God, superior to that of ordinary faithful.
And so the Apostle describes what true knowledge of God consists in, using ex-
pressions which complement one another — knowing him (v. 4); in him who
knows God “truly love for God is perfected” (v. 5); abiding in him (v. 6).

“Keeping his commandments” (vv. 3 and 4), “Keeping his word” (v. 5), “walking
in the same way in which he walked” (v. 6): keeping the commandments is ab-
solutely necessary, because there is no room for faith without works (cf. 1 Jn 3:
17-18; Jas 2:14ff; Gal 5:6). Similarly, one must keep the word of God, that is,
accept all revelation docilely (an idea found very often in John: cf., e.g., Jn 5:38;
8:31, 51; 1 Jn 2:14). But, above all, Christians must identify their life with Christ’s;
St Prosper comments: “Walk as he walked: does that not mean giving up the
comforts he gave up, not being afraid of the kind of trials he bore, teaching what
he taught [...], persevering in helping even those who show no appreciation, pra-
ying for one’s enemies, being kind to evildoers, serenely tolerating the proud?”
(”De Vita Contemplativa”, 2, 21).

7-8. In a play of words, St John draw his readers’ attention to the commandment
of brotherly love, which he does on to describe in vv. 9-11. It is, he says, an old
commandment (v. 7) and at the same time a new one (v. 8). Old, because Chris-
tianity and charity are inseparable and that is something the faithful have known
“from the beginning”, that is, since they first received instruction; in some way,
it can be said that it is even pre-Christian, because it is impressed on the heart
of man. Yet it is new, because it is not out of date and has become a reality in
Christ and in Christians. The novelty lies not in the precept (which is to be found
in the Old Testament: cf. Lev 19:18) but in the standard which Jesus sets (”even
as I have loved you”: Jn 13:34) and in the fact that it covers everyone: we must
love everyone, friends and enemies, without distinction of race, or ideology, or
social status (cf. note on Jn 13:34-35).

Moreover, Christian love is not limited to seeking the earthly happiness of others,
but tries to lead all to faith and holiness: “What is perfection in love?” St Augus-
tine asks. “Loving our enemies and loving them so that they may be converted
into brothers. Our love should not be a material one. Wishing someone temporal
well-being is good; but, even if he does not have that, his soul should be secured
[...]. It is uncertain whether this life is useful or useless to someone; whereas life
in God is always useful. Therefore, love your enemies in such a way that they
become your brother; love them in such a way that you attract them to fellowship
with yourself in the Church” (”In Epist. Ioann. ad Parthos”, 1, 9).

9-11. In the special style of this letter, an application is made of the new com-
mandment, possibly to counter false teachers, who despised the ordinary faithful
and were sowing discord among the Christians. The rhythm of the language —
hate, love, hate — in which the positive idea is placed between two opposed ideas,
highlights the importance of brotherly love.

“The principal apostolate we Christians must carry out in the world,” St. J. Escri-
va writes, “and the best witness we can give of our faith, is to help bring about a
climate of genuine charity within the Church. For who indeed could feel attracted
to the Gospel if those who say they preach the Good News do not really love one
another, but spend their time attacking one another, spreading slander and quar-
relling?

“It is all too easy, and very fashionable, to say that you love everyone, Christians
and non-Christians alike. But if those who maintain this ill-treat their brothers in
the faith, I don’t see how their behavior can be anything but ‘pious hypocrisy’. By
contrast, when in the Heart of Christ we love those ‘who are children of the same
Father, and with us share the same faith and heirs to the same hope’ (Minucius
Felix, “Octavius”, 31), then our hearts expand and become fired with a longing to
bring everyone closer to our Lord” (”Friends of God”, 226).

Light/darkness: the action which began at 1:5 (”God is light”) ends with the repe-
tition of this contrasting imagery.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


3 posted on 12/28/2012 10:16:55 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Luke 2:22-35

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple


[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses,
they (Joseph and Mary) brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to
the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “every male that opens the
womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to
what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.”

Simeon’s Prophecy


[25] Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this
man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy
Spirit was upon him. [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that
he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. [27] And inspired
by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child
Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, [28] he took Him up in
his arms and blessed God and said, [29] “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant de-
part in peace, according to Thy word; [30] for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation
[31] which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, [32] a light for reve-
lation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to Thy people Israel.”

[33] And His father and His mother marvelled at what was said about Him; [34]
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, “Behold this child is
set for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken
against [35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts
out of many hearts may be revealed.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

22-24. The Holy Family goes up to Jerusalem to fulfill the prescriptions of the
Law of Moses — the purification of the mother and the pesentation and then re-
demption or buying back of the first-born. According to Leviticus 12:2-8, a wo-
man who bore a child was unclean. The period of legal impurity ended, in the
case of a mother of a male child, after forty days, with a rite of purification. Mary
most holy, ever-virgin, was exempt from these precepts of the Law, because she
conceived without intercourse, nor did Christ’s birth undo the virginal integrity of
His Mother. However, she chose to submit herself to the Law, although she was
under no obligation to do so.

“Through this example, foolish child, won’t you learn to fulfill the holy Law of
God, regardless of personal sacrifice?

“Purification! You and I certainly do need purification. Atonement and, more than
atonement, Love. Love as a searing iron to cauterize our soul’s uncleanness, and
as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretchedness of our hearts” (St. J. Es-
criva, “Holy Rosary”, Fourth Joyful Mystery).

Also, in Exodus 13:2, 12-13 it is indicated that every first-born male belongs to
God and must be set apart for the Lord, that is, dedicated to the service of God.
However, once divine worship was reserved to the tribe of Levi, first-born who did
not belong to that tribe were not dedicated to God’s service, and to show that
they continued to be God’s special property, a rite of redemption was performed.

The Law also laid down that the Israelites should offer in sacrifice some lesser
victim — for example, a lamb or, if they were poor, a pair of doves or two pigeons.
Our Lord, who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that
by His poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9), chose to have a poor
man’s offering made on His behalf.

25-32. Simeon, who is described as a righteous and devout man, obedient to
God’s will, addresses himself to our Lord as a vassal or loyal servant who, having
kept watch all his life in expectation of the coming of his Lord, sees that this mo-
ment has “now” come, the moment that explains his whole life. When he takes
the Child in his arms, he learns, not through any reasoning process but through
a special grace from God, that this Child is the promised Messiah, the Conso-
lation of Israel, the Light of the nations.

Simeon’s canticle (verses 29-32) is also a prophecy. It consists of two stanzas:
the first (verses 29-30) is an act of thanksgiving to God, filled with profound joy
for having seen the Messiah. The second (verses 31-32) is more obviously pro-
phetic and extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel
and to all men. The canticle highlights the fact that Christ brings redemption to
all men without exception — something foretold in many Old Testament prophe-
cies (cf. Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 2:6; 42:6; 60:3; Psalm 28:2).

It is easy to realize how extremely happy Simeon was — given that many patri-
archs, prophets and kings of Israel had yearned to see the Messiah, yet did not
see Him, whereas he now held Him in his arms (cf. Luke 10:24; 1 Peter 1:10).

33. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph marvelled not because they did not know
know who Christ was; they were in awe at the way God was revealing Him. Once
again they teach us to contemplate the mysteries involved in the birth of Christ.

34-35. After Simeon blesses them, the Holy Spirit moves him to further prophecy
about the Child’s future and His Mother’s. His words become clearer in the light
of our Lord’s life and death.

Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet He will be a sign of contradiction
because some people will obstinately reject Him — and for this reason He will be
their ruin. But for those who accept Him with faith Jesus will be their salvation,
freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life.

The words Simeon addresses to Mary announce that she will be intimately linked
with her Son’s redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have a share
in her Son’s sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces her soul.
Our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins, and it is those sins which forge the
sword of Mary’s pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to God but al-
so to His Mother, who is our Mother too.

The last words of the prophecy, “that out of many hearts thoughts may be re-
vealed”, link up with verse 34: uprightness or perversity will be demonstrated by
whether one accepts or rejects Christ.

36-38. Anna’s testimony is very similar to Simeon’s; like him, she too has been
awaiting the coming of the Messiah her whole life long, in faithful service of God,
and she too is rewarded with the joy of seeing Him. “She spoke of Him,” that is,
of the Child — praising God in her prayer and exhorting others to believe that this
Child is the Messiah.

Thus, the birth of Christ was revealed by three kinds of witnesses in three diffe-
rent ways — first, by the shepherds, after the angel’s announcement; second, by
the Magi, who were guided by a star; third, by Simeon and Anna, who were in-
spired by the Holy Spirit.

All who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no
matter how insignificant their lives seem in men’s eyes, become instruments the
Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to other. In His plan of redemption God
avails of these simple souls to do much good to all mankind.

39. Before their return to Nazareth, St. Matthew tells us (2:13-23), the Holy Fa-
mily fled to Egypt where they stayed for some time.

40. “Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child, that is, as one clothed in the fragility of
human nature, had to grow and become stronger but as the eternal Word of God
He had no need to become stronger or to grow. Hence He is rightly described as
full of wisdom and grace” (St. Bede, “In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.”).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 12/28/2012 10:17:43 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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