Day 356: God Is Love

1 John 4:1-6 The presence of evil in the world and its strong capacity for deception requires Christians to be cautious and vigilant. Not every prophet or prophecy is of the Holy Spirit, so any such claim must be tested. Christian faith must always be based on faith in the Incarnation of Christ, who has come in the flesh, and anyone who denies that Christ is God is not guided by the Holy Spirit but by the evil one. 

This is the spirit of antichrist: This suggests that the antichrist is not a particular individual but perhaps a way of thinking or encroachment of error that attempts to deceive the faithful and draw them away from the truth.

We know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error: Through the promise of Christ, the guidance of the Holy Spirit guarantees that the teaching authority of the Church will never teach in error. The Magisterium, Scripture, and Tradition function together in preserving the true Gospel. (CCC 423, 463, 465)

Ch 4:7-8 Christ’s Sacrifice is the ultimate evidence of God’s love for us, a love so great that we can rightly state that God is love itself. (CCC 214, 221, 733, 1604)

Ch 4:9-10 As John wrote in his Gospel: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). (CCC 457-463, 516, 604, 620, 1428)

Ch 4:11-21 Faith involves an intimate relationship with Christ expressed in fidelity to the teaching of the Gospel, a deep life of prayer, and an ardent love for others. One who claims to be a Christian but does not love his neighbor does not love God since love of God is expressed by love for neighbor. Only through deeds of charity can we grow in both knowledge and friendship with God. (CCC 2780, 2790)

Ch 5:1-5 The first three Commandments are immediately directed toward love of God, and the remaining seven Commandments are focused on love of neighbor. While we are called to love all people, our love for fellow Christians ought to rank first in our hierarchy of loves, because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. If we truly love God and neighbor, obedience to the Commandments should flow naturally and not be viewed as a burden to us. (CCC 2780, 2790)

Ch 5:4 As faithful Christians, God provides us with all the grace we need to resist temptation and worldly attachments. (CCC 2848, 2863)

Ch 5:6-12 Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He truly suffered and died on the Cross for our redemption. This teaching is reflected in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. Water and blood refers to Christ’s baptism in the Jordan and his Death on the Cross. John, who had been a disciple of John the Baptist and stood at the foot of the Cross with Mary, was a witness to both events. The water and Blood that flowed from the side of Christ represent the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. (CCC 463, 1225)

Ch 5:8 Three witnesses: Under Jewish Law, at least two witnesses were necessary to corroborate testimony in court. Christ’s humanity is not only a matter of history but is also affirmed in the liturgy; the waters of Baptism and the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist hearken back to the flow of Blood and water from his sacred Body. History and liturgy, then, are two witnesses of the humanity of Christ. (CCC 694, 1108)

Ch 5:13-17 The Church distinguishes between mortal sin, which severs one’s relationship with God, and venial sin, a lesser offense that damages but does not destroy that relationship. While both can be forgiven with proper contrition, mortal sin is far more serious and requires recourse to the Sacrament of Penance. Intercessory prayer for the forgiveness and conversion of sinners is a pious practice, and we can be sure that our prayers and sacrifices in that regard are always fruitful. (CCC 1749-1761, 1854-1864, 2827)

Ch 5:13 Eternal life: In this Epistle, John used this term to mean the indwelling presence of Christ. The faithful have this divine life within them, but it can be lost through deliberate mortal sin.

Ch 5:18-21 To be a child of God is a great gift of Christ’s Redemption. A consequence of being a child of God is the realization that we are loved and that everything works for the good. Since God is our Father, we can always be sure of being victorious over sin as long as we are faithful to our Christian calling. (CCC 407-409, 2852)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

The First Letter of Paul to Timothy




Main Themes:

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

1 Timothy 1:1-2 Paul identified himself as an Apostle because of his direct and personal call from Christ. He considered Timothy his “true child in the faith,” which suggests that Paul had catechized or baptized Timothy before asking him to join in his missionary efforts. At the time of this writing, Timothy was with the Church in Ephesus. Tradition holds that he was its first bishop. (CCC 2636)

Ch 1:3-7 A major issue facing many of the Christian communities in the early Church was the efforts of both Jews and pagans of Ephesus to incorporate their own traditions and beliefs into the practice of Christianity. Because many false prophets and teachers had arisen, Paul and other Church leaders spent much time in refuting their false theories. Paul urged Timothy to take a firm stand against those who would confuse the faithful with false teachings. A true spiritual life is built on the bedrock of sound catechesis in the tenets of the Catholic Faith. Moreover, instruction in the Faith must always be based on the Deposit of Faith as transmitted by the Church. (CCC 426-427)

Ch 1:4-5 The Gospel message differs from that of the false teachers because the Gospel is the truth exercised in love. The perfection of love requires knowledge of the truth, purity of heart, a sound conscience, and a sincere faith. Seeking the truth with a humble disposition assures us of a true and certain conscience in discerning God’s will concerning the right actions in a given situation. (CCC 1794, 1822-1829, 2518)

Ch 1:8-11 Paul often argued against the teaching of the Judaizers that salvation is gained by keeping the Law. The problem with the Law is that it gave moral teachings without the grace to put them into practice. The true and faithful Christian, through correspondence to grace, lives a life that reflects a perfection of the Law expressed in charity. (CCC 1852, 1961-1962)

Ch 1:10 Immoral persons: The Greek pornois means literally “fornicators,” or those who engage in sexual relations outside of marriage. 

Sodomites: The Greek arsenokoitais refers to men who commit sexual acts with other men. Homosexual inclination is not sinful in itself since no act of the will is involved. However, homosexual acts are contrary to the natural law governing human sexuality and are, therefore, intrinsically disordered. (CCC 2353, 2357, 2396)

Ch 1:12-17 Paul recounted his own conversion from a persecutor of Christians to an Apostle for Christ. God often uses individuals with serious weaknesses so his power and presence might shine through all the more. Paul’s own story of receiving mercy and forgiveness for his own terrible sins should lend hope to those who seek forgiveness for their own serious sins. (CCC 142, 545)

Ch 1:18-20 Faith is a gift from God. However, faith can be lost if the conscience becomes corrupted. Here, Paul referred to two men who had fallen into error and “made shipwreck of their faith.” 

I have delivered to Satan: This phrase refers to excommunication. When all efforts have failed to persuade a member of the community to give up public sin or heresy, it is best to be separated from the Church so he or she does not corrupt other members of the faithful. 

That they may learn not to blaspheme: The aim of excommunication is not punishment but the reform of the sinner so he or she may be reconciled to God and join the Church community once again. (CCC 37, 162, 1446)

Ch 1:19 Conscience: A judgment of reason that recognizes the moral quality of a particular act. A good conscience finds satisfaction in doing good and causes us regret and sorrow when we choose evil. Seeking holiness, virtue, and truth makes our conscience clearer and more reliable. Going against the conscience before long renders the same conscience insensitive to what actions may be good or evil. Lifestyles dominated by sin can numb the conscience and even lead to the loss of faith. (CCC 1776-1789, 1801)

Ch 2:1-7 The redemptive Sacrifice of Christ, which is the source of salvation, is for everyone. Because it is God’s will that everyone be saved, no one should fall outside the purview of our prayers. As with the other Apostles, Paul’s mission was to take the Gospel to the entire world. The Church will continue this apostolic mission until the end of time. (CCC 836-838, 1719)

Ch 2:1-2 The types of prayers requested here, such as prayers for governmental leaders, are expressed during Mass in the Universal Prayer, also called the Prayer of the Faithful or Bidding Prayers. Christians should pray for their leaders and those in positions of authority so their leadership and legislation might reflect the moral law. (CCC 1349, 1900, 2240, 2636-2637, 2647)

Ch 2:5 Mediator: One who negotiates and reconciles those who are separated from one another. Christ, who is perfect God and perfect man, is the one Mediator between God and man who reconciles us with the Father through his Sacrifice on the Cross. Christians are called to participate in Christ’s mediation through prayer and works of charity. Through our deeds of faith imbued with love, we serve as conduits of grace. Even the angels and saints intercede for us before God (cf. Rev 8:3-4). Because of her special relationship with each Person of the Trinity, Mary is referred to as Mediatrix of Grace. (CCC 480, 618, 667, 771, 846, 956, 1544, 2574, 2634)

Ch 2:8-16 Christians are called to pray and worship in a spirit of humility, without making a show, and without creating distractions on account of their conduct. While the proclamation of the Gospel and the homily at Mass are reserved for the ordained ministers of the Church, both lay men and women participate in the Church’s evangelization by both witnessing their faith and teaching others about Christ in family life and in the workplace. There is some evidence that Paul may have had in mind certain women who had begun to follow some of the false teachers and began spreading errors themselves, including the idea that it is sinful to marry (cf. 1 Thes 4:3-4). (CCC 2521-2524, 2559, 2631, 2753, 2779)

Ch 2:15 Bearing children: This statement may have been a way of combating the ideas of those who considered marriage to be sinful. While motherhood is one path to holiness and virtue, it is not the only one. God also calls some women to serve him through apostolic celibacy, which is a greater gift than the calling to marriage. (CCC 1652-1653)

Ch 3:1-7 In his Epistles, Paul speaks of the bishop in the singular, while deacons and presbyters, or hierarchical elders, are normally referred to in the plural, thus giving evidence to the early development of the division of Holy Orders. The office of bishop (from the Greek episkopos, meaning “overseer”) referred to the head of a community of the faithful, whose role included being the chief presider, catechist, and administrator of the Christian community as well as being an example of holiness. Today, we describe the bishop as a successor of the Apostles who shepherds his local Church in his threefold responsibility of sanctifying, teaching, and governance. The office of bishop is the highest of the three degrees of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the others being the priesthood (“presbyterate,” or “elders”) and the diaconate. (CCC 939, 1554-1571, 1577, 1590)

Ch 3:2 Celibacy, as a priestly discipline, was practiced by many bishops and priests in the early centuries of the Church. This would become a requirement in the Latin Rite by the twelfth century, and celibacy is required for every bishop in all Rites of the Catholic Church. Paul related that bishops could not be married more than once; thus, a bishop could not remarry if his wife were to die. This is still the case today for those deacons and priests who married before their ordinations. Regarding the ordination of women, the Church is bound by the will of Christ, who chose only men as his priests. Thus, the Church preserves the immutable and universal Tradition that she does not have the authority to confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders on women. (CCC 1577-1580, 1838)

Ch 3:8-13 Deacons of the first century were an outgrowth of the seven men chosen to assist the Apostles (cf. Acts 6:1-6). Of these, Stephen, who was martyred in the presence of Paul (Saul) when he was still a persecutor of Christians, was perhaps the most striking example. Like bishops, a deacon could be married only once and could not remarry if his wife were to die. They were ordained to serve in a variety of tasks under priests and bishops-primarily in care of the poor, the sick, and the widowed-although, as with Stephen, they were soon preaching alongside the Apostles. The women mentioned here may be deacons’ wives. The Council of Nicaea (AD 325) recognized that deaconesses are lay women appointed to particular tasks but specified their essential difference from those men ordained to the diaconate. The work of deaconesses likely involved teaching and service, specifically regarding female catechumens. (CCC 1569-1570, 1794, 2558)

Ch 3:14-16 Household of God: An expression that points to the unity of the Church and to the status of the faithful as children of God and, thereby, members of God’s family. In the household of the local Church, the bishop represents the figure of the Father.

Pillar and bulwark: The key structural supports of a building. The Church, with Christ as her cornerstone, upholds the truth and means of salvation from generation to generation. She accomplishes this through teaching the truths of the Catholic Faith revealed by Jesus Christ. Guided by the Holy Spirit, she is preserved from error in her teachings on matters of faith and morals. 

Mystery of our religion: The saving act of Christ, the Son of God made man. (CCC 171, 385, 461-465, 2032, 2641)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you so much for this day. Thank you, gosh Lord, for continuing to walk with us, continuing to guide us and feed us with your Word, and shape us by your truth. We ask you to please help us to love, help us to love, help us to love. You are love. You have loved us first. And we give you praise as you put that love into our hearts, help us to love in return and love in response, as you do. As you’ve loved us, help us to love the people around us. As you’ve loved us, help us to love you yourself. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”