I was twelve years old and unable to appreciate the Biblical history of where we were, when we were on the island of Patmos, in the Dodecanese. We were on a tour of their famous monastery and the cave where Saint John the Evangelist dictated the Apocalypse. Instead of venerating the icons and following along in awe, I spent the afternoon torturing my poor mother with my desire to be at the beach instead of another stuffy monastery, where I had to wear a borrowed long skirt to cover my legs and button down shirt to cover my shoulders. Skipping over the whining and complaining that ensued; I must confess, it was not my proudest moment. Fast forward a few years when I learned who St. John was, and what he had written, and what he had done… I was embarrassed and ashamed. What a missed opportunity.
This morning, I was in my own sort of deja vu. It was time to wake up and get ready for church, and I had to wake my sleeping son, who has discovered the pleasure of sleeping in. It was my turn to inspire a twelve-year-old to honor a saint he didn’t know?
I’m sure parents can imagine what transpired. It started with his denial, mumbling that he was still sleepy. Then it turned to anger, refusing to wake up. Eventually, he transitioned to bargaining; attempting to convince me that I could go without him and it would be a win-win.
Go without him? I wasn’t buying any of that. I know the initial compromise of leaving for church without him, will doom me forever! It will be an unrecoverable precedence. I was firm, explaining how we are practically related to this saint because Patmos is only miles from the island his yiayia (grandmother) was from and that a great uncle was a monk there. I reminded him that St. John was a favorite of Jesus, and since we love Jesus, we love his saints. And finally, as he whined how I was ruining his Saturday, I corrected him, with this rebuttal, “I am offering you something greater than what you want for yourself!” and followed it with a quick, “Now, get up and don’t make me late!”
I thank God we made it to church on time and I was able to read the day’s Epistle, 1 John 4:12-19. It’s one I should memorize and repeat until my dying day.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
It was another reminder that if we are looking for God, we will find Him in the people around us. We won’t see Him through fear. Fear blinds us. We won’t see him through anger. Anger blinds us. We won’t see Him through jealousy. Jealousy blinds us. If we want to see God, we have to be perfected in love and look to one another through love. That is where God is. He is in Love. And He is in us.
May we always have the prayers of the Evangelist, St. John, to see through Love.
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