January 3, 2017 (Feast of the Most Holy Name Of Jesus)
Tuesday before the Epiphany
The Responsorial Psalm calls us to recognize the mystery of our identity: “All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God” (Psalm 98).
1John 2:29 to 3:6 tells us that the “world,” meaning those in whom faith is not enlightening, “does not recognize us.” As what? The answer is “as children of God.” But John insists, “Yet that is what we are.”
Do we recognize this ourselves? We all accept the words and profess them as our faith. But do we really see ourselves, accept ourselves, value ourselves and rejoice in ourselves as “God’s children”? If we do, what difference should it make in our lives?
When faith is truly alive, it fills us with a new and special hope. We live with the expectation and confidence that when Jesus brings us into the vision of God, “we shall be like him, for we will see him as he is.”
It is this faith in our own identity, and this hope in what we actually will be, that encourages us to strive for “the perfection of love,” which the second Vatican Council holds up to us as the goal of every authentic Christian lifestyle:
Every Catholic must therefore aim at Christian perfection (cf James 1:4; Romans 12:1-2) and all, according to their station, must do their part so that the Church... may daily be more purified and renewed... (Decree on Ecumenism no. 4).
Thus it is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love (The Church, no. 40).
We have “become Christ.” We are children of the Father “in the Son.” We will eventually be “like him” perfectly. “All who have this hope based on him keep themselves pure”—that is, unmixed in motivation— 'as he is pure.' We keep trying!"
John 1: 29-34 tells us that John the Baptizer himself did not recognize Jesus for what he was until he “saw the Spirit descend [and] rest on him.” To really “know Jesus,” it is not enough to have grown up with him, or grown up in the faith that declares what he is. We have to be enlightened interiorly by the Holy Spirit to appreciate his mystery as the Savior who can actually save our lives on this earth from all that diminishes them (which may be different from what we think!).
To really know Jesus we have to interact with him in human ways that are made divine by the “co-action” in us of the Holy Spirit. We have to pray with our minds, reflecting on what Scripture says of him. And with our wills, putting our faith into action, which is where we realize what it actually is. If we do this, we will “see the saving power of God.”
Initiative: If you want to know Jesus, know yourself as God’s own daughter or son. Act as Jesus in everything you do. Learn how to do this through prayer.