Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jesus Christ: our Advocate with the Father

Our New Testament reading for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B (i.e., this year), is taken from my favorite non-Pauline epistle, that is, from 1 John. In our reading, comprised of the first four-and-a-half verses of the second chapter, the readers, originally the Johannine community, but today you and I, are exhorted not to sin. As well know from our own experience, this far easier said than done, but I'll come back to that in a moment. In verse 6, which falls outside the scope of the lectionary for today, we are told to be Christlike, that is, if we claim "to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived." This would be living without sinning.

Sandwiched between the opening exhortation not to sin and the closing verse telling us to be like Him, is the meat and cheese of this reading. The metaphorical cheese, is the reassurance that even if we do sin Jesus Christ, "the righteous one," acts on our behalf before the Father, that is, takes on Himself the burden of our sins. So, when we sin it is important that we not get discouraged, or give into despair, but to turn to our Advocate. Really, this is our hope. We should all be relieved to know that we can't save ourselves, but most us, myself included, spend a lot of trying (and failing).

The meat, it seems to me, especially because there is so much angst about being obedient, about doing the right thing, even to the point of reducing faith to morality, is that following Him in faith, like His first disciples, who left everything to follow Him, is the only way to know Him, and knowing Him is the only way to love Him (otherwise we might merely be fascinated by or even infatuated). Therefore, "whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him" (verse 5).

The proposal set before us in this reading is verifiable through experience. The experience of endeavoring to keep His commandments, but desiring doing so for no reason other than love (all of His commandments are encapsulated in the two great commandments), and to realize that even when you fail He is there for you, showing you that in Him you are always already victorious. As He urged John and Andrew, "Come, and you will see" (John 1:39).


  1. When I think of clerical sacrifice I think of this notion "There can be no greater love, than to lay down one's life for those one loves."

  2. Sorry the previous comment goes with the Diaconate entry below.