3rd Sunday of Easter; Year B
1 John 2:1-5a
I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning; but if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just; he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments. Anyone who says, ‘I know him’, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, refusing to admit the truth. But when anyone does obey what he has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him
“I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning”. That is quite the mission statement from John. Our priests, the Church, and even Jesus – God himself – seek to stop us sinning…and yet, our fallen nature makes overcoming our inclination to sin all the more difficult! It’s almost as if John immediately acknowledges this by comforting us that “…if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just”.
The Son became human so he might know us. The purpose of his humiliation and death was not some sort of ritual; it was so we can know that experiences the most painful of the events that we possibly he can. He, the highest of the high, understands first-hand the lowest of our lows. It is this that makes Him the most perfect ‘advocate’ to the Father for our sins.
Yet, if I can build on this metaphor, an advocate cannot work with nothing. If a lawyer’s client has no alibi, not explanation, nothing to argue a counter case – then defending them becomes infinitely more difficult.
We cannot know all that God knows or what he wants from us. Many people who desperately search for their purpose, or the meaning of life, often miss out on the gift of life itself. But, that doesn’t mean that we can know nothing about God or what he wants from us, because God has himself told us what he wants from us and what we can do.
We have the 10 Commandments; the beatitudes; the parables of the Gospels; the words of Jesus. The night before He died he told his disciples to take bread and wine, bless it and share it among the faithful “In memory” of him. We may not know what God wants from us, as individuals, at every single moment in time…but as an ‘us’, as humans, as Christians, as Catholics, we know what he has asked of us.
That is how we come to know God as God, “…only by keeping his commandments”. This is why John writes “Anyone who says ‘I know him’, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, refusing to admit the Truth”. If we accept God as God, as creator of Life and King of the Universe, then if He (or His Church, vested with His Authority) tells us to do something, then it ought to be done.
And in doing so, we draw closer to God. In Gethsemane, Jesus did not submit to his Human Will, which feared what was to come. Instead, the Son submitted to His Divine Will, shared perfectly with the Father, which allowed “God’s love [to come] to perfection in Him”. We are called be God to be like Jesus, and to, similarly, submit to his divine Will.