“They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertions shows that none of them was of our number. But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One.” (1 Jn 2:19)
These words from the first reading for mass today are of great consolation for faithful Catholics. Many of us know disgruntled Catholics who left the church because they could not accept our beliefs or way of life. There are many reasons Catholics leave the church, but it often boils down to the fact that they could not accept what the church teaches.
Martin Luther had some valid reasons for getting upset with the Catholic church, but if he would have stayed and worked for reformation within the church, he would be a saint in the Catholic church today. Instead, he decided to leave the Catholic church and go start his own religion. Martin Luther even went so far as to remove seven books of the bible, that he didn’t personally think was the inspired word of God.
King Henry the eighth also couldn’t accept the church’s teachings about divorce and remarriage. He wasn’t granted an annulment, so he left and started his own religion, rather than look within himself to see why his desires were out of sync with what the church taught was morally right. Eventually his desires got out of hand though, and he went through six wives before he died. The “new church” he formed allowed him to do what he wanted with his wives. Saint Thomas Moore is a saint though, because he spoke up to King Henry and told him it was wrong to divorce his first wife and remarry another without an annulment. He spoke the truth, but it cost him his life.
The truth is hard to live by and yet, the truth is actually pretty simple. We are the ones who complicate things by not accepting it, and wanting to do what we personally want instead. However, those who remain in the church “have the anointing that comes from the Holy One”. The anointing of the Holy Spirit and the graces we receive from the sacraments and our prayer life strengthens us to overcome our own personal inclinations to sin.
The last sentence in the first reading for mass today seems to be speaking directly to all of us, the faithful Catholics who do choose to remain in the church: “I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.” (1 Jn 2:21)
The gospel today is powerful, and beautiful, and deeply inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is infused with the truth:
“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1: 14)
“From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (Jn 1: 16)
We know the fullness of the truth as Catholics. All religions contain a ray of light that is the truth, but only the Catholic church contains the fullness of the truth. This entire passage from today’s gospel would be a beautiful thing to contemplate on while we are on the brink of the new year.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1: 1-5)
Let us pray for one another tonight, to be lights in the darkness, visibly showing that the darkness of our world has not overcome Christ’s light within us. His flame still burns brightly, and will continue to do so until the end of time.