Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2

God's Love

Popular Translation

1 Look at the way the Father loves us! Because He loves us, God calls us his children. And we are! But the world doesn't really understand us, because it doesn't know Jesus. 2 Loved ones, we are God's children. But God hasn't shown what that really means just yet. We do know that when Jesus comes in glory, we will be like him, because we will see him as he really is.

Literal Translation

1 See what kind of love the Father has given us, so that we might be called children of God, and we are (his children). Because of this, the world does not know us, because it does not know HIM. 2 Loved ones, we are children of God, and it has not been shown what we will be. We know that if HE is shown, we will be like HIM, because we will see HIM as HE is.

How can we know we are God's children? When we act like him and dare to hope we will be like his Son.

In the context of 1 John, these verses point to the two ways we can demonstrate our status as God's children: moral living and the expectation of salvation at the Final Judgement. Both are rooted in God's love for us.

Love is powerful. When we know we are loved, we look at the world through different eyes. The impossible seems possible. Hardened hearts become soft. Forgiveness is a reality. Intimacy is encouraged , not rejected. When we love, and we know that we are loved, we can have the empathy to look at the world through the eyes of others. It is no less with God's love. When we know God loves us and we return his love, we are changed. We view others as God does. We are his children. So are our enemies. Such love and knowledge of love leads to compassion and reconciliation.

God's love presents challenges, however. How can we sustain the enthusiasm we feel about his love? How can we live out his love? To answer the first question, we must remember that we are temporal beings, with free will, changing feelings, and shifting experiences. Because of these factors, God's love is not always in our field of view. While God always offers his love to us, our awareness can only periodically glimpse at his affection for us.

So, his love requires a constant focus. It demands we live as if we always experience his love, in spite of our feelings. In this sense, our response to his love is a lifestyle that assumes his love is always present (the answer to the second question). In other words, his love can only take root when we pass his love along to others. This was the author's point in the context for these verses. Love (i.e., charity) determines Christian morality.

Love also gives hope. God's love gives us hope that we will live with him. The author clearly pointed to his hope in 3:2. God's love impels us to look ahead, to look beyond.

But the cynics of the world take a critical view of a life built on love. "Not realistic," they insist. In their view, the world is built on power, money, and popularity. Love becomes a commodity at best, a hindrance at worst. Only fools love. Only fools believe.

So, we are fools. Fools for Christ. Fools that love. Fools with hope. Such foolishness is vastly superior to the cynics' dark world. Such foolishness is better than despair. Such foolishness lets us know we are God's children. Because we can love like God loves us. And we will be like his Son.

How has God's love changed you? How does it give you hope?