Monday after Epiphany, January 4
May We Open Our Hearts to God’s Spirit, Who Only Wishes to Guide Us into a Right Relationship with Himself, Who Only Wishes to Steer Us onto the Path Which Leads to Eternal Life.
We read from the First Letter of John, “This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God.”
As we reflected upon the journey of the Magi on the Solemnity of the Epiphany yesterday, it is important that we also reflect upon our own journey, the journey which you and I are traveling in our life of faith.
Each and every day of our lives, whether we like it or not, and whether we are ready or not, we make all sorts of decisions, some important, some relatively insignificant. Yet, each choice in life that we make does tend to have a way of affecting others.
We know only too well that each of our choices has consequences – some good and some bad. Each decision we make, each road upon which we choose to travel, can have repercussions which may affect the lives of those around us, especially those whom we love and hold dear.
So, how do we discern what is appropriate or inappropriate? How do we discern what is true and what is not, what is good and what is bad?
In our First Reading today, we are told, “…do not trust every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God…” When the First Letter of John was written, the Christian community was being torn apart through false teachings! – teachings which were being promulgated by false prophets.
Today, over nineteen hundred years later, there are those who are still being deceived by false teachings which come to us from the spirit of relativism, even from certain elements within the Church – a practice which rejects Divine Truth, and rewrites the idea that truth is relative to one’s way of thinking and acting. It is a concept which has deceived and separated many good people from their relationship with God, for the spirit of relativism comes from the prince of lies, himself – Satan!
All we need to do is look at the widespread acceptance of abortion in our culture today, a practice which denies the sanctity of life in the womb! All we need to do is look at same-sex marriages, an aberration which denies the sacredness of marriage designed by God to include the complementarity of one man and one woman in a holy union of selfless love, so that new life may be generated!
All we need to do is look at the latest thinking within the hearts of certain members of the ordained clergy within the Church, whereby the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Body and Blood of the Risen Christ is being offered to all peoples, even those who practice homosexuality and who are in grave sin! And this list of relativistic thinking is as long as there are ways of breaking God’s Commandments!
If the First Letter of John were to be written today, one can only wonder how well it would be received, considering the fact that there are many who openly and willingly embrace a spirit of darkness, what John calls “the spirit of the antichrist”. For “…every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.”
But as we well know, it takes more than just acknowledging Jesus; it also requires that we live the message of Jesus – for our Lord once said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven!”
In this journey of faith which you and I live, and the decisions which you and I make each day, what could be clearer than the message we are given today, on this day after the celebration of Epiphany:
“We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.”
Listening to His Commandments, making them a part of our daily lives calls each of us to a life of commitment – placing our relationship with God first and foremost in all that we think, in all that we say and do, even if it means reforming who we are, so that our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel can truly take root within us, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Embracing the teachings of our faith, truly focusing on the relationship which God invites each of us to have with Him, becomes that epiphany, that spiritual awakening within us of what is truly important in this cultural climate in which we live today.
For it is only when we place God in the driver’s seat of our lives that John’s words in our First Reading can then take on real meaning for us, “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us.”
And it is His Spirit, the Spirit of Divine Truth and Love, who becomes our Light guiding each of us in the midst of the darkness which constantly surrounds us. It is His Spirit which supports and strengthens us in the midst of “the spirit of the antichrist” which wishes to continually mislead and deceive us on this side of the eternal, where every decision we make has consequences.
And the Most Holy Spirit will guide us in doing what pleases God’s will; the Holy Spirit will save us from the demons of self-deception – if we are willing to take the time and listen, if we are willing to invest our efforts and the time necessary in listening to the voice of God with an open heart, and if we are willing to take all that the spirit of Christmas has taught us and place it into practice in our daily lives – at home, at work, in everything that we think, say and do.
Let us open our hearts to God’s Spirit, who only wishes to guide us into a right relationship with Himself, who only wishes to steer us onto the path which leads to eternal life. For, this is our Lord’s deepest desire for you and me – that we live forever with Him, filled with the peace and joy of being eternally embraced by His Love.
The choice is up to each one of us, for the spirit of Christmas can truly be ours forever! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 4:17)
- “…do not trust every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God…This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.” (1 John 4:1, 2-3)
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven!” (Matthew 7:21)
- “Beloved…we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (1 John 3:21b-22)
- “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us.” (1 John 3:24)
- “Envy not the lawless man and choose none of his ways: To the LORD the perverse man is an abomination, but with the upright is his friendship.” (Proverbs 3:31-32)
- “Who are those who fear the LORD? God shows them the way to choose.” (Psalm 25:12)
- “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:14)
Prayer for the Day
“Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
enlighten our minds to perceive the mysteries
of the universe in relation to eternity.
“Spirit of right judgment and courage,
guide us and make us firm in our baptismal decision
to follow Jesus’ way of love.
“Spirit of knowledge and reverence,
help us to see the lasting value of justice
and mercy in our everyday dealings with one another.
May we respect life as we work to solve problems of family
and nation, economy and ecology.
“Spirit of God, spark our faith,Prayer of Saint Augustine
hope and love into new action each day.
Fill our lives with wonder and awe
in Your Presence which penetrates all creation. Amen.”