Usually, when I go through the daily readings, I am drawn immediately to the Gospel. Not today, however. Today, my eyes go to the first reading from the first letter of John for a couple of reasons.
The first reading spans two separate passages, titled “Confidence before God” and “Testing the spirits.” John begins by saying, “Beloved, we receive from him whatever we ask.” We receive whatever we ask? Where does that confidence come from? Obedience.
By following God’s commandments, by believing in Christ and loving others, not even our own hearts can condemn us. Knowing that we remain in communion with Him, we have the confidence to approach the Lord with all of our needs – big or small. Greater trust in God’s plan is another fruit of obedience as well.
I associate confidence before God with the ability to be specific in prayer. He knows the desires of our hearts, He knows what we want, but there is something to approaching the Lord in prayer with a specific intention and feeling confident that He will answer.
It is important to remember, however, that God doesn’t always answer prayer on our own terms. An oft-used saying goes, “God has three answers in mind: yes, not yet or I have something better in mind.” That is where trust comes in and, when we add in confidence, we trust His answer no matter what it is. God’s plan is better than anything we could dream up.
We cannot trust everything, however, as the second half of the reading tells us. John explains that there are spirits belonging to false prophets that have gone out into the world and invites us to test those spirits. Through the unity of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit acknowledges Jesus Christ as the true Son of God. Every spirit that does not acknowledge the same truth does not belong to God but to the world instead. Because we are not of the world, we have conquered those same spirits since God, who dwells within us, is greater than the world.
As we begin this new calendar year, I invite you all to practice these few simple virtues of obedience, trust and confidence. Test those false prophets and see where the Lord will take you this year.
Erin is a Parma Heights, Ohio, native and a 2016 graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She uses her communication arts degree in a couple of different ways: first, as an Athletic Communications Assistant at Baldwin Wallace University and, secondly, as a youth minister at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Although both of her jobs are on complete opposite spectrums, she truly enjoys being able to span the realm of communications. You can follow her on multiple Twitter accounts – @erinmadden2016 (personal), @bwathletics (work) and @HFVision (youth ministry).