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The first letter of St. John: Christ, the Righteous One, atoned for our sins (part one)

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My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.

But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

(1GV 2.1).


«My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin»: Like a loving Father, the Evangelist John calls his readers his children and states that he is writing the letter to induce them to humility, so that they will beware of sinning. For to those who are humble the Lord gives grace (1 Pet 5:5).

Paul says, " if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12). This conviction about our great frailty must not, however, become a reason for exaggerated anxiety: we must serenely know that without Christ we can do nothing (Jn 15:5) and, with equal serenity, believe that with him we can do everything: " I can do all this through him who gives me strength " (Philippians 4:13). True humility always coincides with great boldness, but this does not abolish the need for vigilance and commitment. Confidence in God, however, must not lead us to conclude: "So let us sin".

"But if anybody does sin ": John has just made it clear that everyone does sin. Why does he now speak only of some? He is referring to those who do sin after conversion and baptism. He may be referring to some form of light sin. St. Augustine, however, warns, "You must not give little weight to these sins that are defined as slight. You take them into little account when you weigh them, but what a fright when you number them! Many light things, put together, form a heavy one."

"We have an Advocate (parákletos) with the Father: Jesus Christ, the Righteous One ": he who does sin may trust in Christ, who can perfectly save those who through him approach God, since He is always alive to intercede on their behalf (Heb 7:25). Jesus Himself indirectly presented Himself as Parákletos (lit.: called to one's aid, ad-vocatus) when He said, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. " (Jn 14:16-17).

This work of Christ as Advocate produces remission and cleansing from all unrighteousness for those who confess their guilt (1:9), because the Father reconciles them to themsekves. Christ's action is also joined by that of the brothers, who pray for the sinner (5:16). St. Augustine comments, writing: "Consider how John himself kept himself in humility.... He said ...: We have an advocate. He did not say: You have, nor: You have me.... He preferred to place himself among sinners rather than present himself as an advocate instead of Christ and then find himself among the proud worthy of condemnation." Jesus, in addition to being an Advocat, is also called righteous (that is, holy): precisely because he is holy, he spreads holiness. The righteousness in which Christ is rich has a special characteristic: it tends to spread and communicate itself. It is a salvific justice.

In the passage of January 12, 1900. Jesus addresses Luisa some sublime words on the virtue of humility.  Jesus says that only His Humanity was filled with opprobriums and humiliations, to the point that they overflowed outside. This is why Heaven and earth tremble before His virtues, and the souls who love Him use His Humanity as the staircase in order to ascend and lap up a few little drops of His virtues.

Before Jesus’ humility, where is ours? He alone can glory in possessing true humility. Jesus’ Divinity, united to His Humanity, could operate prodigies at each step, word and work; yet, He voluntarily constrained Himself within the circle of His Humanity, He showed Himself as the poorest, and He reached the point of mingling even with sinners. Jesus  could have done the work of Redemption in very little time, and even with one single word; yet, during the course of many years, with many hardships and sufferings, He wanted to make the miseries of man His own; He wanted to exercise Himself in many different actions, so that man might be completely renewed, divinized, even in the lowest works. In fact, once they had been exercised by Jesus, who was God and Man, they received new splendor, and remained with the imprint of divine works. Jesus’ Divinity, hidden within His Humanity, wanted to lower Itself to such lowness, subjecting Itself to the course of human actions - while with one single act of the Divine Will Jesus could have created infinite worlds - feeling the miseries and the weaknesses of others as if they were Its own, seeing Itself covered with all the sins of men before Divine Justice, having to pay their penalty at the price of unheard-of pains and with the shedding of all Its Blood. Thus It exercised continuous acts of profound and heroic humility.

Here is the immense difference between Jesus’ humility and the humility of creatures, which is only a shadow in the face of His, even that of all the Saints; because the creature is always a creature and does not know, as Jesus knows, how great is the weight of sin. Even though heroic souls, following Jesus’ example, have offered themselves to suffer the pains of others, their pains are not different from those of the other creatures; they are not new things for them, because they are made of the same clay. Besides, the mere thought that those pains are the cause of new gains, and that they glorify God, is a great honor for them. Furthermore, the creature is restricted within the circle in which God placed her, and she cannot go out of those limits within which she has been circumscribed by God. Oh! if it were in their power to do or undo things, how many other things they would do - everyone would reach the stars! But Jesus’ divinized Humanity had no limits, yet It voluntarily constrained Itself within Itself; and this was the braiding of all His works with heroic humility. This had been the cause of all the evils that inundate the earth – lack of humility; and Jesus, by exercising this virtue, was to draw all goods from Divine Justice.

No concessions of graces depart from God’s throne, if not by means of humility, nor can any ticket be received by Him, if it does not carry the signature of humility. No prayer is listened to by God’s ears, and moves His Heart to compassion, if it is not perfumed by the fragrance of humility. If the creature does not arrive at destroying that seed of honor, of esteem – and this can be destroyed by arriving at loving to be despised, humiliated, confused – she will feel a braiding of thorns around her heart; she will perceive a void in her heart that will always bother her, and will render her very dissimilar to Jesus’ Most Holy Humanity. And if she does not arrive at loving humiliations, at the most she will be able to know herself a little bit, but will not shine before Jesus, clothed with the garment of humility, beautiful and worthy of sympathy.

don Marco
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