Day 357: Truth and Love
THE SECOND LETTER OF JOHN
The Second and Third Epistles of John are sometimes called the "lesser Epistles of John" because of their brevity.
The majority of early observers as well as Church tradition credit all three Epistles to the Apostle and writer of the Gospel of St. John.
Both of these shorter Epistles bear the name John "the elder" (2 Jn 1; 3 Jn 1) in their salutations, and St. Papias, the second-century Bishop of Hierapolis, believed that this John was a figure other than the Apostle.
Such doubts remained a minority opinion in the Church, and the similarities among the three Epistles as well as the Gospel of St. John seem to indicate a common authorship.
Tradition has St. John writing all three of his Epistles in Ephesus after returning from his exile on the Greek isle of Patmos around AD 95-96.
The Second Epistle of John is addressed to "the elect lady and her children," (verse 1) probably signifying a church in the region of Ephesus in Asia Minor; the "elect sister" (verse 13) in his closing remarks refers to Ephesus itself.
St. John seems to have been warning the church community of the approach of false teachers who denied the Incarnation.
The Epistle as a whole is almost a summary of the first Epistle as it urges Church members to remain faithful to the doctrines they have been taught, to follow all the Commandments in the spirit of the New Commandment of Love, and to shun the false teachers who try to lead them astray.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
2 John 1-3 This Epistle touches on the same general topics as his first letter but in a more abbreviated form.
The elder: A term used in the Apostolic Church interchangeably with "priest" or "bishop." These specific terms for the various Church offices had not yet become universal. Here, it refers to the letter writer, John.
The elect lady and her children: The Church and her faithful. The Church has from the beginning referred to herself with the feminine pronoun in recognition of her status as the Bride of Christ.
All who know the truth: The Catholic Church is entrusted with the Deposit of Faith, and the Holy Spirit keeps the Church faithful to the truth in her teachings on faith and morals. Other Christian communities, not united to the Catholic Church, possess elements of the truth but not its fullness. (CCC 2040)
2 John 4-6 Christ taught that the entire moral law—all the Commandments and the Beatitudes—are summarized in the Great Commandments: you shall love God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Later, he gave his New Commandment: we should love one another as Christ himself has loved us. If we truly live out these Commandments of Love, we automatically keep all of the Commandments.
Some of your children: Based on the tone of this Epistle, John probably did not mean that some are following the truth to the exclusion of others; rather, those he had come to know had been shown to be faithful. (CCC 1823, 2055, 2093, 2196, 2822)
2 John 7-11 Those of the "antichrist" refused to recognize Christ as the Son of God, fully God and fully man. John related that anyone who did not uphold this doctrine of Christ was a heretic and should be shunned. The situation with these false teachers seems to have become more pronounced since the time of John's first letter. In the culture of the day, any kind of greeting or hospitality implied closeness, commonality, and friendship. To associate in such a way with those who had rejected basic Christian teaching would have scandalized others by conveying approval or complicity in their errant beliefs. (CCC 465, 675, 2088)
2 John 12-13 The children of your elect sister: This refers to the faithful of the Christian community in Ephesus. The various local churches, or dioceses, united in Christ and in the Faith of the Apostles, form one universal Church. (CCC 752)
1 Timothy 4:1-16 The false teachers of Ephesus had promoted, among other things, Jewish dietary laws. Judaizers were Jewish converts who believed that Gentile converts should be circumcised and embrace the Mosaic Law prior to being received into the Church at Baptism. Other false teachers promoted an asceticism that forbade marriage. The best defense against these errors, Paul told Timothy, was to preach the truth with conviction and to live an exemplary and virtuous life, which would confirm his authority as a leader in the Church. (CCC 2518)
Ch 4:1 In later times: This expression as well as others such as "end times" refers not only to the end of the world but also to the present era. In a certain sense, the world entered its final age with the establishment of the New Covenant, which is God's final phase in the history of salvation. The redemptive Sacrifice and Resurrection of Christ is the culmination of God's plan to draw all people to himself. Scripture frequently refers to false prophets, confused teachings, and persecutions as the world draws nearer to its end. (CCC 37, 672)
Ch 4:10 savior of all: This phrase should not be taken in support of the idea of universal salvation. Rather, it means that the offer of salvation in Christ is universal and that anyone who sincerely responds to the invitation in faith will be saved. Like Paul, our hope is founded upon a personal encounter with Christ, who calls us to share in his eternal life. (CCC 389, 528, 594, 1058, 2812)
Ch 4:12-13 Paul's intent here was to say that Timothy's relative youth might make him timid or work against his credibility with some. Nevertheless, his consistent preaching and example of fidelity and love will go far in winning over the hearts of the faithful. (CCC 131-132)
Ch 4:14 Timothy was ordained a bishop by the imposition of hands. The Greek presbuteriou, translated as "elders," or "presbyters," refers to the ordained ministry of the priesthood. The laying on of hands was used in a variety of liturgical actions, including the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Confirmation. As a bishop and successor to the Apostles, Timothy possessed the sacred power to lay hands upon men in order to ordain them bishops, priests, or deacons. (CCC 1312-1314, 1554, 1556, 1573-1576, 2686)
Ch 5:1-2 Because the Christian community is a family that forms part of Christ's Mystical Body, Paul advised Timothy to treat everyone like a family member, respecting the position of elders as well as the relative innocence of those who are younger. Implicitly, everything must be done in a spirit of familial love. (CCC 2212-2214)
Ch 5:3-16 Widows, particularly those who had no children or close relatives, were largely dependent upon the Church for their support. They would often form a group within the Christian community, vowing not to remarry and dedicating themselves to charitable work and prayer. Paul drew a distinction here between "real widows," who were older, had no family, and had shown themselves to be good and virtuous Christians, and "younger widows," who perhaps were not mature enough to commit themselves to celibate service and, therefore, should remarry. Paul was emphatic here about the obligation of children and other relatives to provide for widows within their families. (CCC 2208-2211)
Ch 5:10 Washed the feet of the saints: In a time of unpaved roads and sandals, footwashing was a gesture of hospitality performed for guests. At the Last Supper, Christ washed the feet of his disciples as a symbol of humble service to others. (CCC 1337)
Ch 5:17-25 Elders, or presbyters, are those men ordained to the priesthood. Paul called for strong commitment and virtuous lives among these church leaders and stated that they deserved, in justice, the material support of the faithful.
Two or three witnesses: In Jewish Law, at least two witnesses were needed for a charge to be made in court. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands: Candidates for priestly office must be carefully examined before ordination; to ordain unqualified candidates would be detrimental to the Church. (CCC 1306-1310, 1554, 2122, 2686)
Ch 5:23 Timothy's unspecified health issues could have been some form of food poisoning from contaminated food or water, whose symptoms could be alleviated by wine.
Ch 6:1-2 In the first century, as many as half of the residents of Ephesus were slaves. Paul did not confront the moral issue of slavery, which was an accepted institution at the time, but on more than one occasion in Scripture he did write about the relationship between slave and master, stressing the inherent dignity of all persons and the equality of all before God. Here, his focus is on the slaves, who ought to give their masters respect and perform their work in an exemplary manner. When both slave and master are Christians, they are brothers. Instead of using their fraternal relationship as an occasion to disrespect their masters, slaves should sanctify their work all the more out of love of God and for their brother. Everyone can serve God regardless of his or her position in society. (CCC 1828, 2414)
Ch 6:3-10 Attachment to possessions and fame are incompatible with living the Gospel and lead to a sinful life. Detachment from worldly goods and vanity are absolutely necessary for a serious spiritual life and Christian charity. We ask the Lord to supply our basic necessities so we can serve him and others in a dignified and effective way.
Ch 6:11-21 In contrast to the worldly preacher of the previous passage, Paul urged Timothy to lead a virtuous and holy life and to preach and defend the faith courageously. Those who are wealthy must be urged to be detached from riches and to stay focused on using their wealth for the good of others. (CCC 2145)
Ch 6:16 Dwells in inapproachable light: God's divine life far transcends our human experience and capacity, yet he desires to adopt us as his children and communicate this divine life to us. God's self-revelation provides us the opportunity to respond to his love for us through prayer and deeds of charity. (CCC 52)
Ch 6:20-21 The faith with which Timothy had been entrusted is precious and sacred; it must be preserved and taught without corruption in the midst of many conflicting claims and philosophies. The Church and her bishops in union with the Pope are guardians of truth until the end of time. (CCC 74-84)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
So as we noted before, the Second and Third Letters of John are quite short
The same themes apply
John is saying, “This is the key. This is the key: Love. That’s it.”
And not only LOVE in this idea of AFFECTIVE love like AFFECTION
Affection is fine
Affection is good
John is talking about EFFECTIVE love
In the same way that when Jesus preached love, he was talking about EFFECTIVE LOVE
Love that ACTUALLY CLOTHES THE NAKED
Love that ACTUALLY DOES SOMETHING that is EFFECTIVE
Not just AFFECTION, which is a FEELING, which is great
Love is FELT
It is MORE THAN A FEELING (Oh you know I had to go here didn’t you? 😉 Boston - More Than a Feeling (Official Video) )
To truly be the love that God has, love MUST BE EFFECTIVE
It is one of the reasons John reminds us, “This is love that we follow God’s Commandments.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
2 John 6, “This is love, that we follow his commandments.”
Not only is it LOVE
It is DOCTRINE
It is TRUTH
John talks about this TRUTH and LOVE
These are two things that MUST go together
Truth without love is a SLEDGEHAMMER
Love without truth is INEFFECTUAL
Love without truth is SYRUP (Wow…I love how Fr. Mike pronounces “syrup” haha 😁)
Neither of those actually does a lot of good
Neither of those build up
What we are called to do is BELONG TO THE LORD and help in building up the people around us
Anyways, that’s John
The next time we see John we will be hitting The Book of Revelation the day after tomorrow
We also have the conclusion of 1 Timothy
Remember Timothy is living in Ephesus
The Ephesian Christians have gotten a number of things wrong
Ch 4 is about False Asceticism
They were denying certain things
They were forbidding marriage
They were enjoining abstinence from some foods
Paul is writing to Timothy saying, “No no no. Remember, marriage is good. Marriage is a gift from God. Also remember in the New Covenant, you can eat all foods. Whatever food you have, you can eat those foods.”
1 Timothy 4:4, “...nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it its consecrated by the Word of God and prayer.”
There are also some people who were not living very noble lives
There are groups of older men and the stories were they might have been walking around drunk all the time
There were older women who were wealthy widows so they are basically living off the generosity of the Church
They were giving the Church a bad name and gossiping
As we know, gossip is DEADLY TO A COMMUNITY
Gossip is DEADLY TO RELATIONSHIPS
So Paul is writing to Timothy saying, “Listen, those men…correct them. But correct them as you would correct a father. So you’re not just lambasting them in front of everybody. And these women…remember we need to give our support to TRUE widows, those who actually are in need and those who are willing to take the gifts we are giving them and not just live idly but live nobly.”
THAT IS THE KEY!!
IT IS REALLY HARD!!
It’s one of the calls we have
Not simply to throw charity wherever
To apply it where it is NEEDED
The reminder that St. Paul gives to Timothy to pass on to everyone in Ephesus is “The Church is NOT the first line of defense against poverty. The Church is NOT the first line of defense against someone living a life of desolation. It’s actually the FAMILY. So if we’re going to be Christians, and you are not taking care of your own family, then you are FAILING IN RELIGION. You are worse than an unbeliever.”
A Christian who does not take care of their own family, when they can, is WORSE THAN AN UNBELIEVER
CONVICTING for so many of us who might be separated or distant from our families
“Ok, how can I do that now in this life, in this day, and in this age?”
It is a call for ALL OF US
1 Timothy 4:7-8, “...Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way…”
Fr. Mike goes for a run, workouts, exercise and Paul says bodily training is of SOME value
He doesn’t denigrate it
He highlights the fact that, “But at the same time godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
That is a good reminder that we just…mmmm
Our call to not just have fitness, wealth, or success in our lives
To be the kind of men and women that God has CREATED AND REDEEMED US TO BE
The last thing here is The Good Fight of Faith
Paul is exhorting Timothy, who is young
This young Bishop of Ephesus
1 Timothy 6:11, “But as for you, man of God, shun all of this…”
All of what?
Love of money, which is the root of all evil
Remember that money is not the root of all evil
1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.”
Fr. Mike has seen this many times
He sees this desire to be successful
He sees this DESIRE to accumulate wealth that drives SO MANY STUDENTS from a life of PRAYER AND SERVICE to becoming DISTANT AND COLD to the Lord
They think they’re going to crush the day and get after it
Instead of giving God their first fruits and pursuing that training in Godliness is this pursuit after wealth and month
1 Timothy 6:10-11, “The love of money is the root of all evils; and some, by craving this, have pierced their hearts with many pangs. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
“Take HOLD of the ETERNAL LIFE to which you were called.”
My brothers and sisters, you and I have been called to Eternal Life
So why not fight for it?
Here we are on DAY 357
You have been fighting for 357 DAYS
You have been listening to the Lord’s Word for 357 DAYS
TAKE HOLD OF THE ETERNAL LIFE THAT GOD HAS IN STORE FOR YOU
THAT HE WANTS FOR YOU
THAT HE WILLS FOR YOU
THAT HE’S GIVEN YOU IN CHRIST JESUS AND THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
FIGHT FOR IT!!
THIS IS THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT…sigh…YOU AND I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN
SO WE FIGHT!! (Is Fr. Mike crying?? Wow very emotional lesson today)
SO WE FIGHT TO NOT LOSE IT!!
BUT TO TAKE HOLD OF IT
AND BY DOING SO TO FOLLOW THE COMMANDMENTS TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS GOD HAS LOVED US
AND TO BE WORTHY OF THE GIFT
BE WORTHY OF THE GIFT!!
MAN!! (OH MAN!!)
It’s been great
IT HAS BEEN GREAT TO WALK WITH YOU
Thank you so much for being on this journey with Fr. Mike and with each other
LET’S KEEP FIGHTING
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for calling us your children and making us into your children in your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We ask you to please help us to walk in faith. Help us to walk in hope. And help us to walk in love. In all things. In all ways. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”