1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
This past Sunday, the 2nd reading consisted in this passage. As I sat listening in my pew, I smiled with joy at the reading. This is the passage I picked for my senior seminar paper and project. Let me start by expressing how beautiful the Word of God is! It is so old and has so much history (much of which must be learned in order to understand the meaning of the passages), and yet, it is the Living Word. It means something today. God speaks to you through each word read, many times in a new way each time it is read.
This was my experience on Sunday. I studied this passage extensively just last year. Spending hours upon hours studying the words and their meaning, what Pope Benedict, St. Augustine, and others had written about it, and anything else I could find about the passage. I spent hours comparing everything, and learning just how many layers of beautiful meaning were held in the words. And yet, much to my surprise, the passage I knew so well spoke to me in a brand new way. What stuck out this time: Remain: "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him."
It has been a struggle for me lately to stay constant in my relationship with God: To set aside that time dedicated soley to Him in prayer, to sacrifice my desired sleeping schedule in order to attend daily mass each morning, to be a woman of constant prayer and service to Him. And Sunday, as I sat listening to His Words, it was clear to me that this is what he wanted me to hear.
Remain . . . remain in love . . . remain in Him.
Remain: to stay; to continue to be in a place; to be in existence or in a certain state for an indefinitely long time.
Remain: abide, be left, cling, continue, dwell, endure, go on, hold on, hold out, inhabit, keep on, last, live, lodge, make camp, nest, outlast, outlive, persist, prevail, remain standing, reside, rest, sit tight, stand, stay, stay put, stick around, survive, wait.
Each of these words has a beautiful meaning of remaining in Him. To remain in God, we must abide by Him, be left in Him, cling to Him, continue with Him, dwell in Him. We must hold on, endure, last, persist, prevail, reside, stay. We must remain constant. Constantly remaining with Him in each moment of each day of our lives. We cannot: depart, forge, go, leave, or move. We cannot be flakey with God. We cannot only go to Him when we are in trouble, we cannot only spend time with Him when it is convenient, we cannot live with God as simply a part of our lives. He must BE our life. He must be where we dwell, where we lodge, where we make camp, nest, reside.
Today, as I reflect on what God is revealing to me through this passage, I see ever more clearly that one is either moving toward or away from Christ. There is no standing still. And if it seems that one is standing still, it is most likely that they are drifting away from Christ. I see that He is challenging me to remain in Him when things are difficult, remain in Him when I am tempted, remain in Him when I am tired, remain in Him when I am scared, remain in Him when I am am restless, and remain in Him when I am lazy. I see that He is callling me to consistently remain in Him.
"God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him."