"Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth." I Jn 3:18
Talk can be easy. Action is always more difficult. In the U.S. culture people are very used to saying "I love you," or "love you," at the end of every phone conversation. This is not a bad custom in itself, but when it is not followed by action, it becomes hollow. How many times can we say "love you" to grandparents, for instance, and never visit them even when they live in the same county or town.
Today's second reading from the first letter of St. John is intended to comfort those who are stumbling and struggling with divisive teaching in the community, and to reassure them that no matter how confusing life might be, we must live the good news, not just debate it. How best to articulate faith in Jesus was a necessary step in the early church's growth. That some were trying to use these disagreements for their own political gain was unfortunate but understandable. As the early church began to grow and gain followers, who would lead it became not just a matter of theological orthodoxy, but of power and control.
There will always be debates in a church as culturally and religiously diverse as ours but the lesson of today's scripture is clear. We can endure disagreements about how to preach God's word as long as we are all trying to live the gospel in our daily lives.
Today, ask yourself whether you spend more time arguing about the truth than living it.
What is your best experience of working through differences in your parish or family?