Reading 1, 1 John 1:5—2:2
5 This is what we have heard from him and are declaring to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.
6 If we say that we share in God’s life while we are living in darkness, we are lying, because we are not living the truth.
7 But if we live in light, as he is in light, we have a share in one another’s life, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and truth has no place in us;
9 if we acknowledge our sins, he is trustworthy and upright, so that he will forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all evil.
10 If we say, ‘We have never sinned,’ we make him a liar, and his word has no place in us.
2 He is the sacrifice to expiate our sins, and not only ours, but also those of the whole world.
This is an astonishing passage. It tells us, amongst other things, that there is no darkness in God. That means, no hate, no fury, no favouritism, no injustice. If that’s true then quite a number of stories about God are false. (See below)
It also tells us that if we live in the light of Christ and tell the truth about ourselves, we are no longer isolated but “share a life with one another.” That’s a good translation of the Greek word, “koiononia”, which was used of commercial enterprise, “a share in a business”, a “partnership.” My good fortune will be shared with my bothers and sisters, as they will come to my side in bad times. There’s some evidence that the first Christians actually lived this way.
Even more, if we tell the truth about ourselves, acknowledging our sin, we are forgiven through Christ’s sacrificial offering of himself to God. We can’t make that offering ourselves, but together, with Jesus, we can make a new beginning in truth.
John says, “The blood of Jesus” meaning his death on the cross, and also his offering of his life in his ministry. Wilfrid Owen, the poet of the First World War refers to this meaning of blood, when he writes, “Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.” Sacrifice can be living as well as dying.
Gospel, Matthew 2:13-18
13 After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’
14 So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I called my son out of Egypt.
16 Herod was furious on realising that he had been fooled by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or less, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men.
17 Then were fulfilled the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.
If God is responsible, via his star, for the wise men coming to Jerusalem and making Herod aware of the new-born king of the Jews, how can He be excused when He warns the wise men and the holy family but leaves innocent children to suffer the consequences of His carelessness? Is this a good story about God?