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Monday, May 18, 2020

Reflection 2020-05-18 Monday 6th Week of Easter (Victoria Day)

Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149; John 15:26-16:4
We celebrate Queen Victoria today and also commemorate our ruling Monarch, Queen Elizabeth. Why should we be concerned about the Queen? Because God allowed her to sit at the throne to guide the country. Scripture tells us to pray for our civic rulers so we can live in peace. May the Lord continue to guard her and protect her, give her long life. God save the Queen!
In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as:
  1. The promise of Jesus. Jesus calls him as Advocate, which is a legal term that means a defendant. He protects us and speaks on our behalf.
  2. Sent by Jesus from the Father. Jesus sends him from the Father to do the Father’s will.
  3. The Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father. He speaks only the Truth coming from the Father. Many today say, there is no objective truth. But as Christians, we believe, Truth is what God says and not what human beings say or imagine.
  4. Witness on behalf of Jesus. The Truth the Holy Spirit speaks witnesses to Jesus. While Jesus commands the Apostles to testify for him, they are to do so only based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that we take whatever we understand about Scripture as coming from the Holy Spirit. This thinking is naive and dangerous because not everything we understand of Scripture comes from the Holy Spirit. 1 John 1:4 tells us to test all spirits if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. In the same chapter, John also gives us the criteria for testing the Spirit: every spirit that confesses Jesus came in the flesh is of God. Every spirit that denies Jesus is not of God.
Any teaching that denies the need for the death of Jesus to atone for sin, is of the Antichrist. This includes teaching that says we can work our way to salvation without the atonement of Christ, anything denies the work of God for our salvation, anything that says human intelligence is not needed for faith, anything that takes Christ away from Faith, is of the antichrist. The Antichrist is a person but in this context, the antichrist is simply an enemy of Christ. This does not mean the person who teaches these is the Antichrist, what it means is the teaching is against what Jesus teaches.
Jesus warns his disciples on what his enemies will do: they will put you out of the synagogues… those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. They do this because they have not known the Father or me. The key to understanding the teaching of Jesus is to know the Father or Jesus. Those who teach what is of the antichrist, those who will persecute believers will think they are doing what is right, because no one does something because they think it is wrong. The most despicable act is always, from the perspective of the one doing it, the right thing to do. This is why the First Reading tells us that when Paul and his companions spoke to the women by the river, Lydia heard it. Luke describes her as a worshiper of God. Luke then says the Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. Conversion and salvation is a gift from God BUT it requires a desire to know the Truth of God. Lydia was disposed to have God open her heart because she was already a worshiper of God. She sought the Truth and this attitude allowed God to open her heart.
This is why the Church teaches that even non-Catholics can be saved IF they sincerely search for the Truth and live according to a well-formed conscience. The key word here is well-formed. A well-formed conscience is one that seeks the Truth of God. Since God wants everyone to be saved, he reveals his Truth to everyone. And the Church teaches that we can know God by use of human reason. But full knowledge of God is revealed in the teaching of the Catholic Church. Is this a bit arrogant for the Church to say that? Perhaps, but this is the Truth. The Church says that not to boast but to let people know where they can find THE Truth Jesus reveals. We do not consider arrogant what Jesus said that I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, because he said this, not to boast but to let people know who he is so they may have life.
Are you seeking the Truth Jesus is revealing? Then come to Jesus and ask him to reveal himself. You can use your intelligence, your reason to come to a natural conclusion and open your heart so God can take you where you are, infuse you with supernatural grace to launch you into faith in him.
Lord, I want to know the Truth. Guide my reason, so I may conclude you are God. Infuse my intellectual knowledge of you with your Holy Spirit, so I can open my heart to hear your Word and surrender my life to you. Here I am Lord, teach me to worship you in Spirit and Truth. Teach me to accept you as my Lord. Break through my preconceived ideas of you so I can truly know you, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God who took on flesh to save me. Take delight in me O Lord as I trust you.

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