I John 3.22—4.6; Psalm 2; Matthew 4.12-17,23-25
This final reading from the 1st Epistle of St John allies right belief (doxology, the proper praise of God) with right behaviour (axiology, the philosophic study of value). We are commanded, the author of this epistle reminds us, to ‘believe in the name of God’s Son Jesus Christ’ and equally to ‘love one another.’ The call to love other Christians (and John, it must be stressed, strongly insists that we have nothing to do with either non-believers or with those whom he calls ‘false prophets’; cf II John 7-11) arises from a common possession of the Spirit of God. If our belief is right, John urges, it is because of God’s dwelling in our hearts; if the Spirit of God dwells in us that Spirit will recognise himself in others. ‘Deep speaks to deep’ the Psalmist [41(42).7] declares [cf I Corinthians 2.10-12]; what is truest about each of us will recognise that which is truest in others. Superficialities can deceive us; surface-level differences between people are of little or no importance. But when we are truest to the truest, deepest parts of ourselves we will find ourselves in union with the truest, deepest aspects of others. Because in the depths of our hearts we believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnation of the Maker of all things we will find power to walk alongside and indeed to love all those who believe in him.