3rd Sunday of Easter
This Sunday, the second reading will be from 1 John 2:1-5a. I would encourage you to read from 1:5-2:11, for more context.
If we we combine last week’s reading with this week’s (both from 1 John), John has told us that obedience of God’s commandments is important to a person’s life and faith, in part because it serves as a useful diagnostic tool.
A person who is consistently disobedient of God’s commandments shows at least one of two things about themselves. Either (A) they do not know the commandments (and therefore they do not know the God who gave them), or (B) they do not love him, or possibly both.
Since we are all created by God in love, we owe him our love in return.
A servant who loves his master will do all in his power to carry out his master’s commands, and will be genuinely sorrowful when he cannot do so, and the opposite holds for a servant who does not love his master.
In as much as we all sin, we are all disobedient servants.
While in this passage, John talks more about those servants who do not try than those who do (there is some pretty strong language against all sin in general), there is some good news for those disobedient servants who are muddling along and doing our honest best. He says this: “If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.”
He goes on to say that “[Jesus] is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but those of the whole world.” This means that Jesus’ death is sufficient to justify the whole world, but it does not necessarily mean that it is efficacious for everyone.
This is not to say that everyone will be saved - quite the opposite is true. We have from Matthew 25:41 and following, that there will be some who are not saved. Some will reject God by their actions.
In light of this, we know that God loves us, that he wants to save us all, but salvation will not be forced on him who does not desire it.
What should we understand from this?
Our God is a merciful God - infinitely, gloriously merciful, but it matters that we try. It matters that we make a real effort to love him, to follow his commandments, and to love and care for our neighbors as well and as completely as we can.
Lord Jesus, glorious and merciful God, we thank you for your sacrifice for our salvation. We ask that you bless us with an ever increasing love for you, and for our neighbor. Help us to be good and obedient servants, and day by day, conform our wills to be as one with yours. Grant that we seek to know, to understand, and to follow your laws in all of the areas of our lives. Let us be your faithful witnesses to all the world.
As a closing note - as far as my understanding goes, this post is in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church - but the area of justification and the sufficiency vs. efficacy of grace is an area upon which my understanding is a little shaky. I would be pleased to accept fraternal correction if my understanding (or presentation thereof) is flawed.