Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
The above sentence, from today’s first reading, is appropriate as we begin a new year, as it sums up the basic meaning of Christian life. First, it tells us that we can only appreciate what love is when contemplating it as lived by Jesus, especially in his willingness to give his life to us. This means, for John, that living a Christ-like life means having an equal willingness to live and die for one another.
This is the basis for all Christian morality. John begins this passage by reminding us, “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another.” Later, he adds, “Let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth.”
Saint John Neumann was a model of a bishop who loved his flock. He worked tirelessly in the service of others and was especially mindful of the many immigrants and Native Americans entering the country at that time, even mastering 11 languages to better minister to everyone. He collapsed on a street in Philadelphia, having poured out his life for others at the young age of 49. His death there, before he could even be taken to a hospital, shows us a person who, like Jesus, was willing to give his life for his flock. This type of self-giving love is what we celebrate each time we come to the Table of the Lord. Hopefully, our celebration will be not only “in word or speech, but in deed and truth.”
How do we show our love for one another?
Let Us Pray:
O Jesus, while you were at the table in the final meal you would have with your friends, you gave us only one commandment: that we should love one another as you loved us. Help us to base our lives on this desire of yours.