Christmas, January 5th

In today’s First Reading John the Evangelist describes the bond of love between Christians as brotherhood. Good friends consider each other as brothers and sisters, even if they share no blood ties, and the sad case of Cain that John mentions today shows how evil it is when a brother turns on another. Christ, becoming man, became our brother, and he gives us the example to follow: he laid down his life for brothers and sisters who appreciated it, as well as for those who didn’t. John urges us today not only to see fellow Christians, but all of humanity as our brothers and sisters, deserving of our compassion and help, whether spiritual or material. This is the true measure of whether we love God.

In today’s Gospel the Lord begins to call his disciples to a new level of brotherhood: some are blood brothers, such as Peter and Andrew, James and John, but they also forge bonds of brotherhood with Our Lord and their fellow apostles as Our Lord’s ministry of love starts to spread. The greatest way we can help a brother or sister is to help him or her understand and achieve the purpose of their life: to be loved by God and to love in return. We may not always start by inviting them to consider becoming Christ’s disciple, but we know that’s the best direction they can take.

Cain was jealous of his brother Abel’s relationship with God, and that jealously led to murder. The true measure of our love for God is whether we love our brothers and sisters. Let’s examine our hearts today and expunge any trace of Cain.

Readings: 1 John 3:11–21; Psalm 100:1b–5; John 1:43–51.