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To: All

From: 1 John 1:5-2:2

God Is Light

[5] This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God
is light and in him is no darkness at all.

Walking in the Light. Rejecting Sin

[6] If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and
do not live according to the truth; [7] but if we walk in the light, as he is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son clean-
ses us from all sin. [8] If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive
our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say we have not
sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

[1] My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any
one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
[2] and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins
of the whole world.


1:5-2:29. This section describes what communion with God is, and the demands
it makes on us. We can say there are two parts in the section: the first (1:5-2:
11) teaches that communion with God means walking in the light and, therefore,
rejecting sin and keeping the commandments. The second (2:12-19) warns the
readers to guard against worldly concupiscence and not trust false teachers.

St John is writing as a pastor of souls who has lived the life of the Lord and reflec-
ted deeply upon it. His teaching interweaves truths of faith with moral and asceti-
cal demands because he wants Christians to live in a way consistent with their
faith. Therefore, the text does not really divide into a doctrinal section and a mo-
ral section.

5. “God is light”: the imagery of light/darkness was much employed in ancient
times — sometimes to promote the notion that the world had two principles, one
good and the other evil. In St John the image clearly has a different meaning,
one connected with biblical teaching on light. When God reveals himself to men,
in one way or another light usually plays a part: examples range from the burning
bush (cf. Ex 3:1ff) to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire (cf.
Acts 2:1ff). This imagery is used to show God’s sublimity — as we find also in St
Paul: “the Lord of Lords,...who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has
ever seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:15-16).

The image of light also helps to show what revelation involves: God has made
himself known to us, enlightening our hearts (cf. 2 Cor 4:6). Thus, we can say
that God is light, Jesus Christ has made him known to us, and Christian revela-
tion is the splendor of that light. In St John’s Gospel the idea of Christ as the
light which enlightens the world occurs very often (cf., e.g., Jn 1:4, 9; 8:12; 9:5).
St Thomas Aquinas explains, in this connection, that philosophers prior to Christ
had a certain light which allowed them to attain some knowledge of God through
reason; the people of Israel had much more light, through divine revelation in the
Old Testament; angels and saints, because they have greater knowledge of God
by virtue of grace have divine light to a special degree; but only the Word of God
is the true light, because he is by his very essence the light which enlightens (cf.
“Commentary on St John”, 1, 9).

The expression “God is light” has also a moral dimension: in God there is no
darkness because there is no sin; he is sovereign good and all perfection. The
light/darkness imagery, therefore, helps to underline the gravity of sin: “the light
has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their
deeds were evil” (Jn 3:19). Those who lead a holy life are called children of light
(Jn 12:36; Lk 16:8; Eph 5:8; 1 Thess 5:5); whereas those who do evil live in dark-
ness (1 Thess 5:4), which is the symbol of sin (Lk 22:53).

St John uses the statement that “God is light” to encourage Christians to live in
an upright way; as does St Augustine, who comments that we must be united to
God and “darkness should be cast away from us so as to allow light to enter, be-
cause darkness is incompatible with light” (”In Epist. Joann. ad Parthos”, 1, 5).

6-10. The clause “if we say” introduces three suppositions — very probably
claims made by some early heretics, especially Gnostics (who boasted of having
attained fullness of knowledge and thought they were incapable of sinning).

St John is using the literary technique of parallelism, much employed by Semitic
writers: the first sentence states an idea which is repeated and filled out in the
later ones. Here, the first statement (”we lie”) is later extended to “we deceive
ourselves” (v. 8)..., and then to “we make him [God] a liar” (v. 10). This literary
device shows that the author of the letter was familiar with this style of writing,
very common in the Old Testament.

6-7. Walking in darkness/walking in the light — a graphic description of sinful con-
duct and upright conduct. St John insists that one cannot justify a life of sin by
claiming to have communion with God: “mere confession of faith is in no sense
sufficient”, St Bede declares, “if that faith is not confirmed by good works” (”In
I Epist. S. Ioannis, ad loc.”).

“Fellowship with one another”: If there were an exact parallelism between the
parts of the passage, we would expect it to read “fellowship with him”, which is
how some Fathers read it. If the text reads differently, it is because mutual com-
munion, the fellowship with the Church to which St John is referring, is a pledge
and sign of fellowship with God: “the Church, in Christ, is in the nature of a sa-
crament — a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity
among all men” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 1).

“The blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin”: this idea is often found in
the Book of Revelation when it says that the blood of Christ sets us free (cf. Rev
1:5), cleanses souls and makes them white (cf. Rev 7:14), ransoms them for
God (cf. Rev 5:9) and defeats the enemies of salvation (cf. Rev 12:11). It is made
quite clear that the blood of Christ purifies all types of sin, past and present, mor-
tal and venial. (On the blood of Christ as atonement for all sins, see the notes on
Heb 9:12, 14.)

8. “If we say we have no sin”: the Old Testament often says that all men are sin-
ners (cf. 7:70; Job 9:2; 14:4; 15:14; 25:4; Prov 20:9; Ps 14:1-4; 51; etc.) and this
is also clear from the New Testament (cf. especially Rom 3:10-18). The Council
of Trent condemns anyone who says “that a man once justified cannot sin again
and cannot lose grace” (”De Iustificatione”, can. 23).

Loss of the sense of sin is a danger that threatens man in all epochs. The Apos-
tle’s warning (to his contemporaries in the first instance) has particular relevance
in our own time.” “Deceived by the loss of the sense of sin,” Bl. John Paul II re-
minds us, “and at times by an illusion of sinlessness which is not at all Chris-
tian, the people of today also need to listen again to St John’s admonition, as
addressed to each one of them personally: ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us’, and indeed ‘the whole world is in the power
of the evil one’ (1 Jn 5:19). Every individual therefore is invited by the voice of di-
vine truth to examine realistically his or her conscience, and to confess that he
or she has been brought forth in iniquity, as we say in the “Miserere” Psalm (cf.
Ps 51:7)” (”Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia”, 22).

9-10. “If we confess our sins”: the Council of Trent quotes this text (without inten-
ding to define its exact meaning) when it teaches that confession of sins is of di-
vine institution: ‘The Catholic Church has always understood that integral confes-
sion of sins was also instituted by the Lord (Jas 5:16; 1 Jn 1:9; Lk 17:14) and is
by divine law necessary for all falls after Baptism” (”De Sacramento Paenitentia”,
chap. 5).

The sacred writer puts emphasis on the interior disposition of the Christian: he
should humbly admit that he is a sinner; and St Augustine explains: “If you con-
fess yourself to be a sinner, the truth is in you: the truth is light. Your life does
not yet shine as brightly as it might, because there are sins in you; but now you
are beginning to be enlightened, because you confess your iniquities” (”In Epist.
Joann. Ad Parthos”, 1, 6).

“Faithful and just”: a translation of two Hebrew words which literally have to do
with love and faithfulness. The Old Testament uses this expression to stress
that God’s faithful love is always ready to forgive.

1-2. In order to make sure that no one makes a wrong appeal to divine mercy so
as to justify their continuing to sin, St John exhorts all to avoid sin. It is one thing
to acknowledge that we are sinners and to be conscious of our frailty; it is a very
different matter to become completely passive or pessimistic, as if it were not
possible to avoid offending God. “Jesus understands our weakness and draws
us to himself on an inclined plane,” St. Escriva explains. “He wants us to make
an effort to climb a little each day. He seeks us out, just as he did the disciples
of Emmaus, whom he went out to meet. He sought Thomas, showed himself to
him and made him touch with his fingers the open wounds in his hands and side.
Jesus Christ is always waiting for us to return to him; he knows our weakness”
(”Christ Is Passing By”, 75).

“My little children”: it is difficult to translate this and other similar expressions in
St John, charged as they are with tenderness and a sense of pastoral responsi-
bility. They express a deep, strong love, like that of Jesus at the Last Supper (cf.
Jn 13:33). This same Greek term appears six more times in this letter (2:12, 28;
3:7, 18; 4:4; 5: 21); at other times he uses words equivalent to our “my little ones”
(cf. 2:14, 18) or “dearly beloved” (2:7; 3:2, 21; 4:1, 7, 11; 3 Jn 2, 5, 11). All these
expressions reflect how very close St John was to the faithful.

“We have an advocate with the Father”: Jesus Christ, who is the only Mediator
(cf. 1 Tim 2:5), intercedes for us. He, who has died for our sins (he is “the expia-
tion”), presents his infinite merits to God the Father, by virtue of which the Father
pardons us always. The Holy Spirit is also called Paraclete or Advocate insofar
as he accompanies, consoles and guides each Christian, and the whole Church,
on its earthly pilgrimage (cf. note on Jn 14:16-17).

“St John the Apostle exhorts us to avoid sin”, St Alphonsus says, “but because
he is afraid we will lose heart when we remember our past faults, he encourages
us to hope for forgiveness provided we are firmly resolved not to fall again; he tells
us that we have to put our affairs in order with Christ, who died not only to forgive
us but also (after dying) to become our advocate with the heavenly father” (”Re-
flections on the Passion”, Chap. 9, 2).

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 12/27/2013 9:50:59 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Matthew 2:13-18

The Flight Into Egypt

[13] Now when they (the Magi) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord ap-
peared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the Child and His mother,
and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search
for the Child, to destroy Him.” [14] And he rose and took the Child and His mo-
ther by night, and departed to Egypt, [15] and remained there until the death
of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of
Egypt have I called My Son.”

The Massacre of the Innocents

[16] Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was
in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and
in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which
he had ascertained from the wise men. [17] Then was fulfilled what was spoken
by the prophet Jeremiah: [18] “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud
lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, be-
cause they were no more.”


14. St. John Chrysostom, commenting on this passage, draws a particular at-
tention to Joseph’s faithfulness and obedience: “On hearing this, Joseph was
not scandalized, nor did he say, ‘This is hard to understand. You yourself told
me not long ago that He would save His people, and not He is not able to save
even Himself. Indeed, we have to flee and undertake a journey and be away for
a long time...’. But he does not say any of these things, because Joseph is a
faithful man. Neither does he ask when they will be coming back, even though
the angel had left it open when he said ‘and remain there till I tell you.’ This
does not hold him back: on the contrary, he obeys, believes and endures all
trials with joy” (”Hom. on St. Matthew”, 8).

It is worth noting also how God’s way of dealing with His chosen ones contains
light and shade: they have to put up with intense sufferings side by side with
great joy: “It can be clearly seen that God, who is full of love for man, mixes
pleasant things with unpleasant ones, as He did with all the Saints. He gives
us neither dangers nor consolations in a continual way, but rather He makes
the lives of the just a mixture of both. This was what He did with Joseph”

15. The text of Hosea 11:1 speaks of a child who comes out of Egypt and is
a son of God. This refers in the first place to the people of Israel whom God
brought out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership. But this event was a symbol or
prefiguration of Jesus, the Head of the Church, the New People of God. It is in
Him that this prophecy is principally fulfilled. The sacred text gives a quotation
from the Old Testament in the light of its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The Old
Testament achieves its full meaning in Christ, and, in the words of St. Paul, to
read it without keeping in mind Jesus is to have one’s face covered by a veil (cf.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18).

18. Ramah was the city in which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, concentra-
ted the Israelites he had taken prisoner. Since Ramah was in the land of Benja-
min, Jeremiah puts this lament for the children of Israel in the mouth of Rachel,
the mother of Benjamin and Joseph. So great was the misfortune of those exi-
led to Babylon that Jeremiah says poetically that Rachel’s sorrow is too great
to allow for consolation.

“Rachel was buried in the race course near Bethlehem. Since her grave was
nearby and the property belonged to her son, Benjamin (Rachel was of the tribe
of Benjamin), the children beheaded in Bethlehem could reasonably be called
Rachel’s children” (St John Chrysostom, “Hom. on St Matthew”, 9).

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 12/27/2013 9:52:52 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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