Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Early Christian

I bet the evangelist John, Christ’s youngest and beloved disciple, would have been surprised had he known that his very personal letter to his dear friend Gaius would someday be included in the scriptures, taken up by God to be an expression of His holy and divine Word.
There isn’t anything particularly doctrinal about it. It doesn’t set forth any explanation of divine things. It doesn’t gives us any additional details about his Master and ours, Jesus the Christ. As profound as is John’s writing of the gospel, this letter to Gaius seems very day-to-day.

Well, yes, and that is why, I think, it was included in the written Word of God. It demonstrates that the Lord is present and intimately concerned with all the details of our lives, with everything we think, say and do, with our successes and with our failures, our loves and, yes, our hates.

It also demonstrates that the Church, right from the beginning, was not perfect, was not unified, was plagued right from its first days by the same worries and conflicts that it faces today. Nothing changes. We are still sinners even in the best of life, and the Church is still where we work out our salvation.

Listen in, and be an early Christian, and feel the warmth and the worries of John’s beloved disciple in his old age. Not that he worried without faith or hope, but even the saints have troubles, and like anyone of us today, are told by the Lord how to handle them, and they pass on that instruction to us.

The Third Letter of John, well, the third one that we have—think of how many he must have written, and how wonderful it would be to have them and to read them! But then Holy Mother Church, instructed by the Spirit that lives in her, saved or selected these three; that’s economy!

John writes,

From the Elder: greetings to my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. My dear friend, I hope everything is going happily with you and that you are as well physically as you are spiritually. It was a great joy to me when some brothers came and told of your faithfulness to the truth, and of your life in the truth. It is always my greatest joy to hear that my children are living according to the truth.

My friend, you have done faithful work in looking after these brothers, even though they were complete strangers to you. They are a proof to the whole Church of your charity and it would be a good thing if you could help them on their journey in a way that God would approve. It was entirely for the sake of the Name that they set out, without depending on the pagans for anything; it is our duty to welcome men of this sort and contribute our share to their work for the truth.

I have written a note for the members of the church, but Diotrephes, who seems to enjoy being in charge of it, refuses to accept us. So if I come, I shall tell everyone how he has behaved, and about the wicked accusations he has been circulating against us. As if that were not enough, he not only refuses to welcome our brothers, but prevents other people who would have liked to from doing it, and expels them from the church. My dear friend, never follow such a bad example, but keep following the good one; anyone who does what is right is a child of God, but the person who does what is wrong has never seen God.

Demetrius has been approved by everyone, and indeed by the truth itself. We too will vouch for him and you know that our testimony is true.

There were several things I had to tell you but I would rather not trust them to pen and ink. However, I hope to see you soon and talk to you personally. Peace be with you; greetings from your friends; greet each of our friends by name.
3 John

Version française, ici.

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