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A love letter from God: the first letter of St. John the Apostle

12/27/2021
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Around the year 100, the Apostle and Evangelist John wrote a letter to the community of Ephesus, a community formed in the school of the Gospel written by him.  Through his particular spirituality and mystical language, John certainly enriched that Church. He accustomed the community of Ephesus to judge the events of life with his typical mentality, which knows no half-tones or muted tones, but only full light or total darkness.

For a time, that community was shaped by the assiduous listening to the disciple "whom Jesus loved" and by his profound and unmistakable pastoral work. So, the First Letter of John is a very interesting testimony of how a community lives the mystical communion of grace with the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, beyond the problems caused by human limitations and concrete social and cultural difficulties.

We can also find the same thing in Luisa's Diaries; she too is a disciple "whom Jesus loved" and in her Writings we can find many of John's contents re-expressed and lived in her mystical experience.

What does this special language and doctrine in this book of the New Testament consist of?

First of all, John readily understands the value of the symbols and signs through which the Lord Jesus speaks and manifests himself.  He then teaches us to live symbolically, transfiguring every earthly experience into a spiritual experience.

Secondly, the Evangelist sees that the signs performed by Jesus are prodigious and effective works, in which the glory of God is manifested: all these works find their continuation in the life of the Church, especially in the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.

Finally, according to John, the work of Christ is also accomplished gradually in history and will be completed only on the final day. However, the Evangelist tends to consider what will happen in the future as already accomplished in advance. Thus for him the present is filled with great depth and importance.

If we make a comparison between the Gospel of John and this Letter we find almost the same literary style (parallelisms, cyclical discourses, original and incisive theological synthesis...). Only the background changes: in the Gospel, the sharp contrast is presented between Christ and his disciples, on the one hand, and his adversaries (the so-called Jews or hostile world), on the other. In the letter, the discourse becomes more complex: not only is there the contrast between the Church and the world, but also within the Church itself there is a contrast between true believers and false believers, who deceive not only others, but even themselves. Moreover, many false believers still remain somewhat united to the community, even though they manifest serious shortcomings in their lives. In contrast, other Pharisees actually separate themselves by founding other groups no longer in communion with the apostles. John characterizes them as pseudo-prophets or, even, as antichrists.

The Apostle John clearly indicates the criteria for distinguishing one from the other and in this way reveals some fundamental laws of Christian life. Words are not enough, but deeds are needed, that is to say: it is not enough to claim to know, one must also act. It is necessary to preserve the original and primitive deposit of faith without alteration; it is necessary to discover what practical consequences the unprecedented event of the Incarnation of the Word of God has for the believer. The Christian life must have, at the same time, a Trinitarian and an ecclesial dimension: that is, it must be a true communion lived fully in the vertical direction (God) and in the horizontal direction (our brothers).

For this reason John gives particular emphasis to the virtue of love, as the synthesis and summit of the experience of faith: God, Love and us. From Him we are loved, we must love Him, loving one another with perfect love.

We could say that this is in synthesis the spiritual and mystical experience of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta. In the passage of November 12, 1937, Jesus explains to Luisa, as the creature goes back into God’s Works, longing for them, loving them and making them her own, God’s Love makes Him run toward her, to welcome her to Him, and renew His Works, for her alone - as if God were in the act of repeating them. God centralizes all His Love in her, as well as His Power, His joys and the stratagems and follies of love, which He felts in creating and delivering the whole of Creation.

So, in His emphasis of love, God looks at her and He finds the Heaven and the Love He felts in laying its blue vault. Then He looks at her again, and He finds the variety of stars, while she gives to each one of them her voice to make them say: ‘I love You, I love You, I love You....’ These voices of ‘I love you’ form the most beautiful celestial music, and its harmony and sweet sound are such that God feels inebriated. And in His inebriation He tells her: ‘Daughter, how beautiful you are! You bring Us infinite joys. Not even when everything was created did We receive such melodies and joys, because a creature was missing, who, united to our Will, would make our works say to Us: ‘I love you, I love you, I love you....’

At the sight of such a show of love, God renews the creation of the sun, the wind, the sea and the air, centralizing in her all His love and divine harmony which He felt in creating all these elements. Oh, what a joy for God, and what return of love she gives Him. Looking at her God finds a Sun which burns for love of Him; wind which blows and moans for love and, forming arcane voices of love, tries to surround Him with its love, to tell Him: ‘You loved me, and I love you. Love You gave to me, love I give to You....’ And it forms impetuous waves with its sea, to the extent of giving God air of love for each breath of creature. God feels as though being wounded continuously and fainting for her love

A soul who lives in the Divine Will is all for God. She keeps Him constantly busy - she always loves Him, but with His own Love. Each time she does her acts in the Divine FIAT, God renews the works of Creation, and, to amuse Himself, loves her and makes her love Him, God uses every act she does as material to renew His various created works. And yet, God’s Love is not satisfied. It wants to add more, so It creates new prodigies of Grace, and even God’s very Life within the beloved creature. God likes very much to operate one-on-one, as if He were doing everything for her alone. This makes more love, esteem and appreciation arise toward God, Living in the Divine Will is everything for the creature - everything for God

 

don Marco
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