Reading (1 John 2:22-28) Gospel (St. John 1:19-28)
In the first reading today, Saint John tells us that anyone who confesses Christ also has the Father, and then goes on to tell us about this anointing that has been received; and the anointing received in this sense is the Holy Spirit, so we have the Holy Trinity. But at the same time, Saint John tells us that we must remain in Christ. And if we remain in Christ, he tells us exactly what the promise is: eternal life. Therefore, if we do not remain in Christ, we have cut ourselves off from eternal life.
What does it mean to remain in Christ? At the very least, it means to be in the state of grace, to make sure that all of our sins are confessed and forgiven so we can be in union with Christ. But a minimal point like that is not enough because we all know what the devil’s wiles are. Saint John tells us that he is writing all of this in order to protect us from those who are going to try to deceive us. Well, who is the one who is going to try to deceive us? It is Satan. And if all we are trying to do is keep ourselves minimally in the state of grace–thanks be to God we are there, but we all know Satan’s attacks can be pretty fierce–we are going to be in serious trouble. The temptations, especially at the last moment of our lives, are going to be very harsh. If we are not accustomed to praying and if we are not seeking a deeper union with Christ but only simply saying, “What’s the absolute minimum that I have to have,” then when the temptations come chances are that we are going to fall. That fall will be disastrous, because if we die and we are not in the state of grace, there is only one place we can go. If we are not in the state of grace, we cannot go to Purgatory. Purgatory is for those who are in the state of grace but are not yet fully purified. So if we are not in the state of grace, the only place to go is hell.
This is why it is so critically important that we develop the spiritual life. In the society in which we live, we have to have a spiritual life. It is just part and parcel of every Christian, and it has been for two thousand years. But it is more imperative now than it ever has been before because never before has there been a situation where things are so evil as they are now, where things have gone so far astray. The devil knows how human nature works. He knows that most human beings want to be “in the middle.” So he keeps pushing things out further and further and further so that the middle now is so skewed that what is now considered the middle is something that fifty years ago no one in their right mind would have even dreamed of doing because it was so horrible. But what do we do? We justify it; we say, “It’s not that bad.” But it is! How are we going to recognize how bad it is? Only through the Holy Spirit, Who is in us. And how are we going to recognize it? Only if we pray, because we are not willing to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit if we are not praying. We are not willing to develop a relationship with Christ, which means that we are going to develop our relationship the other way. We are going to be deeper into the things of the world, which means we are going to be deeper into the things of the devil. That is why it is so critical that we develop a prayer life.
That means, as I have told you thousands of times by now, you have to have time every single day in front of the Blessed Sacrament. You have to take time to sit silently before the Lord. It is not enough just to say a few prayers. That is good, but it is not enough. In the world in which we live, it is so necessary that we are deep in prayer just in order to live what used to be considered an ordinary Christian life. That is what has happened. We have to understand that the devil has been so shrewd and right now the line is reeled so far out that just in order to get ourselves back to where we belong we need to be praying. We need to know the truth and we need to conform ourselves to the truth. The only way to do that is going to be in prayer; again, because we know that if we are going to find that middle ground as society wants to present it, it means we are going to be rejecting part of the truth. So if we want the truth–and the truth is Christ–then we have to unite ourselves with Him in prayer. That is what this is all about. If we are united with Him in prayer, then we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit will teach us because He was given to lead us into all truth, which means He was given to lead us into full union with Christ. That is what we need today more than anything.
So if we want that union, if we do not want to follow the spirit of Antichrist, then we need to be deep in union with Jesus Christ. There are only the two options: It is Christ or it is Satan. The choice is ours. As we know, the devil does not care if you make an explicit act of faith in him; you do not have to say, “I reject Jesus and I choose Satan.” All we have to do is look at how we live, the choices we make, the things we do. The actions, as my mother taught me so many times, speak far louder than our words. If our words do not deny Him [Christ] but our actions do, Satan will be perfectly happy with that. So that is why, if we are going to say we believe in Christ, we need to act upon it so we do not deny Him in our actions after professing Him with our words.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.