Belonging to the Spirit of Truth
“Some are mathematicians. Some are carpenters' wives. Don't know how it all got started, I don't know what they're doin' with their lives.” Bob Dylan ~ ‘Tangled Up In Blue’
Who do you belong to?
Today’s 1st Reading (1 John 3:22-4:6) challenges us to consider that very question as John reminds us that those who keep the Commandments remain in God, and God remains in them. As we strive to please God, John tells us, we receive from him that which we desire: a strong and persevering faith ~ made manifest in the the Spirit of God within us ~ that will lead us to eternal heavenly glory in the Kingdom of God.
But not everyone we encounter is trustworthy in matters pertaining to the true Spirit of God. Many false prophets have come. Many are currently in our midst. And you can rest assured that many, many more are on the way. But John tells us how to decipher those who are of the true spirit, separating them from the deceivers and charlatans, the “antichrists” as he repeatedly calls them in this his 1st Epistle. John concludes that every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ in the flesh belongs to God, whereas every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. The latter possess the spirit of the antichrist
who, as John reiterates, “is to come, but in fact is already in the world.”
This is a recurring theme throughout John’s Gospel as well as these Epistles that we’ve been reading in the waning days of the Christmas Season; this oneness and unity between God the Father and the Son. Born of the Father, Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. He is in the Father as the Father is in Him. We are in Jesus as Jesus is in us. This is how we come to know the truth and live it in our lives. This is why those who do not live in Jesus are foreigners to the truth. They do not seek it. They do not find it ~ it does not exist outside of Jesus.
“You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They belong to the world; accordingly, their teachings belong to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.”
Those who are driven strictly by their passions will have no peace. This we know, for this we have seen, over and over again. This is the fate of those who belong to the world. In tomorrow’s Gospel (Mark 6:34-44), the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, we are told at the outset that “Jesus saw the vast crowd and his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”
. . . He began to teach them many things.
There are so many things that Jesus continues to teach us. The lessons never cease for those with the wisdom to continually seek them. Lifelong Catholics who read the Gospel on a daily basis will tell you that they constantly learn new and life changing lessons from these passages, this despite the fact that they’ve heard them countless times. Great graces and the gifts of understanding and a greater sense of discernment continue to flow from these passages, pouring off the pages as though they were written on our hearts and souls, personal love letters from the Good Shepherd to his sheep, those who hear his voice and follow him (John 10:27).
“Put yourself in God’s hands; He abandons no one.” These are the words and the advice of Saint Andre Bessette, whose Feast Day we celebrate today. In declaring that we belong to the spirit of truth, we know that our inheritance is rooted in eternal life, that we shall “receive a hundredfold,” those of us who have left all and followed the Lord (Matthew 19:27-29).
“It is better to be a child of God than king of the whole world.” ~ St. Aloysius Gonzaga