Today’s first reading is 1 John 3:22 – 24:6 and in reading it I found something poetic about today being just a regular Monday after Epiphany.
Here’s the reading:
“…and whatever we ask we receive from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this, we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
Test the Spirits
Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this, you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this, we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
The timing of this reading, for me, is profound. After a Spirit-filled weekend at a conference hosted by Encounter Ministries, where I was blessed with many an opportunity to reflect on my own interior life and connect with other disciples on retreat. One of those disciples was Jeff Cavins whom I had asked what verse, in all of scripture, haunts him the most. His answer was Galatians 2:20 which talks about Theosis and our inheritance in the Cross. By dying to ourselves, while faithfully trusting in God’s mercy, in hopeful expectation of joining Christ in His divinity. There’s a theme in scripture that suggests this process eventually leads to our own Calvary, where we put all that is not of God within us, onto the Cross for Christ to bear for us. In today’s reading John writes of one way we do this: by keeping the Lord’s commandments, specifically in how we treat each other.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.”
If that sounds familiar you may be thinking of Mathew 22:37, but you’d be wrong- it’s actually Deuteronomy 6:5-6. Jesus handed the Pharisees an excerpt right from the same scrolls they would have read aloud in the temple. Matthew 22:39 does provide us with an added declaration to love our neighbor as ourselves. To have compassion. This is further illuminated by 1 John 4:20,
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
How does all this tie together? Good question. By following the commandments God has given us, we begin a process of dying to ourselves, becoming more like Him, as we say “yes” to His life in us and recieving the graces necessary for the renewal of our minds.