That You May Know…


I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God. And we have this confidence in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked Him for is ours. If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and He will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly. We know that no one begotten by God sins; but the one begotten by God He protects, and the evil one cannot touch him. We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one. We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the One who is true. And we are in the One who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Children, be on guard against idols.   I John 5:13-21      

  

I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

  

Well, we’ve come to the end of our study of I John. I hope it has been an encouragement and a source of growth for you in your walk with Christ. I know it has for me.

So as we look at this final section of John’s letter, let us look at the major points he’s written about, that confirms that we have eternal life.   Continue reading

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Three of One Accord


This is the One who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the One that testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that He has testified on behalf of His Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about His Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.  I John 5:6-12  

   

So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. 

  

Some differing faith groups have expressed uncertainty about the identity of the three Witnesses, but most accept the explanation offered by Tertullian in the second century:

 

“For He [Jesus] had ‘come by means of water and blood,’ as John has written; that He might be baptized by the water, glorified by the blood. These two baptisims He sent out from the wound in His pierced side in order that they who believed in His blood might be bathed with the water; they who had been bathed in the water might likewise drink the blood.”   On Baptisim XVI.

 

I offer this for us to ponder; these three Witnesses are still present in His Church, administering the grace that only comes From God.

 

As Jesus Himself was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended on Him as a dove; the Father confirms Jesus is indeed His Son. He confirms this upon us at our baptisim as well (John 3:5).

And as Jesus shed His blood on the cross and died for our redemption, the Spirit testifies to this as well ( John 19:30). For, as Jesus hung upon the cross, dead, the lance (spear) was thrust into His side and the blood and water immediately flowed out (John 19:34).

 

This leads us to our pondering point; the Sacraments of Baptisim (water) and the Holy Eucharist (blood) are still witnessed to By the Holy Spirit in His Church today. The life-giving Spirit empowers the life-giving water and the life-giving blood.

 

This can not be done on man’s accord, but only the accord of the three Witnesses through the power of God. An empty ritual could not and would not bring about eternal life, yet our faith brought to life by the Spirit Himself, testifies within us that Christ is who He says He is. And through the water and the blood we are incorporated into the Sacrament of His Body, the Church.

 

As Saint Ambrose put it, “As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross” (CCC 766).

  

So this week let us listen to the testimony of the Spirit, the water and the blood; calling us to a life of faith, hope and love in relationship to Christ, His Church and our service to others in love (Gal.5:6).

 

Amen.

And The Winner Is…


Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves [also] the One begotten by Him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love and obey His commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?   I John 5:1-5             

Last week we looked at the “perfect love that drives out fear”, this week we see what it looks like in action. It not only drives out fear, it conquers the world!

First, let us note, just who it is who conquers the world. It is whoever is begotten by God. What does this mean, exactly? For those of us who say the Nicene Creed every week, we are somewhat familiar with this term “begotten”. For the Creed it was carefully chosen, for Jesus always was, He was not created. John uses this word as well, in his writings. It’s meaning is “only one of a kind”. Is this the same kind of begotten for us? Not exactly.

We, as disciples of Jesus, are caused to exist by God’s grace through His Holy Spirit. How many of us lose sight of this fact in our day to day lives; The Divine Life dwells in us 24/7 ? The Spirit of God lives in us!

This is how John can challenge us to live pure lives. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us and, because of this fact, surely we won’t want to sin!

Secondly, this “begotten” causes (leads us to) conquer. Conquer what? The world (our sinful desires)! And we can only accomplish this through the power of the Holy Spirit. “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk. 1:37, Matt. 19:26).

Lastly, there is a specific victory that conquers the world (our sinful desires) that is our faith. Remember the definition of faith? It is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen (Heb.11:1).

We are begotten by ” water and Spirit”(John 3:5) through God’s grace and, as His sons and daughters, we partake of the same divine nature as “His only begotten Son”. As members of His family we are indwelled by the Divine Spirit Himself to conquer (overcome) this world in the manner Jesus did. Obedience to the Father in faith, love and works.

So this week, let’s not tell God we love Him……. Let’s show Him! The victory is our’s to have!

Amen.

Have No Fear, True Love Is Here


This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us, that He has given us of His Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testfiy that the Father sent His Son as Savior of the World. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgement because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because He first loved us. If anyone says,”I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.   I John 4:13-21   

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.

The word “perfect” here speaks of maturity, a completeness and it is this love (mature love) that drives out fear. Like water poured in a glass drives out the air that occupied it, so is God’s love poured out in our hearts until fear is driven out of our lives.

The primary meaning seems to be that we will not fear God’s judgement if we live in His love and His love lives in us. So how does His love manifest itself in us?

In our love for others.

What does this have to do with fear? Let’s ask ourselves three questions:

1) Why do we not share our faith with our neighbors/ family?

2) Why do we not pray before meals at a resturant?

3) Why do we tolerate sin and not confront it?

The answer is fear. Why are we so afraid of what people may say to us or about us? Have we forgotten Matt. 5:11 or Matt. 10:28?

Fear is a basic human emotion toward danger. Why do we sense danger in loving others as Christ loves others? Because we see what happened to Jesus when He loved others.

Rejection, humiliation, degradation and crucifixion, not a list of things to get excited about. But these are the kinds of things we may face, as we love as Jesus loves.

We should not be afraid of others, we should be afraid for others!

So this week, let’s share our faith with a neighbor or co-worker. Let’s pray without fear/shame in public and confront the sin that we tolerate in our own lives, particularly the sin of fear that keeps us from loving others as Christ loves.

Amen.

Have You Ever Seen God?


Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God is revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.    I John 4: 7-12

No one has ever seen God? Wasn’t John just telling us that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? That He is the only begotten of the Father? What is he saying,”No one has ever seen God”?

In Jesus, God took upon Himself humanity. We saw Him like us, but His Being was still unseen.

This is the idea behind St. John’s definition of God: God is love (4:16). Love doesn’t have a body, but it can be seen. It’s seen in what is done. God’s love for us was seen by what Christ did for us on the cross. And that same love has cotinued, to this day, through the sending of His Holy Spirit to lead and guide His Church and His disciples.

So, yes. We can say that we’ve seen God, if we recognize God’s love at work in others. Since we are made in God’s image and likeness, once we’ve recieved His Spirit through baptism (the sign of the New Covenant) we are capable of seeing God in this way. As we love one another, we are assured that God remains in us.

If we are truly born from above by the Spirit of God, then we will truly love as He loves. It may be difficult sometimes, but through God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).

So this week, let us see God in one another. Maybe this will help us to act in love toward one another.

Amen.

Test the Spirits!


Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 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. 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 teaching belongs 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.  I John 4:1-6          

What a section of scripture to wrestle over, right? I mean, this is pretty straight forward stuff, right? If anyone acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh, he belongs to God, right? If they don’t they don’t, right?

If you will allow me to take a bit of liberty here, I would like to explore this section of scripture in a different way. A way you may never have looked at it before. I certainly had not.

Test the spirits; every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God.  

It hit me when reading a St. Agustine homily (VI,12) about half-way into point 12, he states: “Then is the spirit that is among the heretics of God, seeing they ‘confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh’?” He then goes on to name some heresies. The Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians,Cataphryges and Novatians. He then goes on: “Then have all these heresies the Spirit of God? Are they then no false prophets? Is there then no deception there, no seduction there? Assuredly they are antichrists, for’ they went out from us, but were not of us’.” St. Agustine then in point 13 of the same homily, concludes,” Thou sayest with the voice, deniest with the heart; sayest in words, deniest in deeds.” His point? ” For thine own honor dividest unity.”

This got me thinking of todays Christian heresies. Who is it, these days, that denies Christ come in the flesh?

It is every one who “went out from us, but were not of us” (the apostolic teachers) and denies “Christ come in the flesh” in the Eucharist.

If anyone other than St. John himself had written this letter, I might not have looked at it this way. In John’s gospel, chapter 6, Jesus says,”Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” This was a “hard statement; who can listen to it?” Many of His disciples “withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”

I see the division and then, the denial. The division comes from not accepting the Apostolic teaching! The teaching that has remained the same, since the very beginning. Once broken off from the ” One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” it’s open, for free lance interpretation by anyone in any way they please. It reminds me of St. Paul’s letter to St. Timothy (II Tim. 3:5) warning him about the last days: “..having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof..” Could this be the denial of the power of the Holy Spirit, transforming the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Christ? It very well could be!

Again, I have taken some liberties in the interpretation of this passage. To my knowledge, the Church has never interpreted this passage this way, nor may it ever. So while it may not be in the realm of strict Catholic Magisterial teaching, it is within the guidelines of personal and/or spiritual interpretation that leads me to a greater love of God, and of my neighbor.I urge us all to seek Christ in the miracle that is the Eucharist, and to bring those who “went out from us” back home.

This week, let us pray and work for unity. Also for  an increase in our love for God and neighbor.

Amen.

The Heart of the Matter


Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and recieve 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. Those who keep His commandments remains in Him, and He in them, and the way that we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit that He gave us.        I John 3:21-24

Why would our own hearts condem us? They wouldn’t….if our motives were pure.

As John begins this last section of chapter 3, he is reminding us of the motivation of our hearts, or our consciences. He has repeatedly reminded us of the importance of love; for God and for our brothers. In last weeks study, he stated, that if we loved in only “word or tongue”, with no action to back it up, the love of God didn’t remain in us. Now comes another test; what’s the motivation for me to act with love towards my brother? Is it for me to be seen and noticed by others, so that they may exclaim how righteous I am? Or is it purely and truely from the love of God that dwells within me?

 Only we, within ourselves, can answer these questions. We can fool other people, for they can not judge our hearts. Only we can…well us and God. So to stand before God in confidence is to stand before Him with a pure heart. Remember the beatitude,”Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” But the benefit of a pure heart doesn’t end there. It also moves us from “seeing God” to “participating with God”, in His life, love and kingdom. As the Lord’s prayer teaches,” Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

With this purity of heart, of seeing and participating with God, we can also have confidence that we can recieve what we ask for in prayer. Why? John says, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. As we act in this way, with pure motives and a pure conscience, we are assured that we remain in Him and He in us, and the way we know this is from the Spirit He gave us. His Spirit, leads us in all truth. He guides and forms our consciences and He is the ever-present reminder, to live our lives in a holy way. Pleasing to the Father as Christ Himself lived.

So this week, let us purify our hearts, examine our consciences and submit to the Holy Spirit’s call on our lives as His children. So that we may live a life worthy of Christ.

Amen.