A reading from the first Letter of Saint John 3:22–4:6
We receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit whom he gave us.
Beloved, do not trust every spirit
but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can know the Spirit of God:
every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh
belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus
does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist
who, as you heard, is to come,
but in fact is already in the world.
You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them,
for the one who is in you
is greater than the one who is in the world.
They belong to the world;
accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world,
and the world listens to them.
We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us,
while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us.
This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.
“We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us”.
We observe this reality in the lives of the Saints, to whom our Lord grants anything they ask. God’s will and their will are aligned because God lives in them, and vice versa.
Besides keeping His commandments, Saint John tells us we must “do what pleases Him." I understand this-- FIRST as doing those things that God expects of me, and SECOND as accepting God's will in all circumstances of my life. Regarding the FIRST, I may believe that God's personal demands are excessive, difficult, pointless, and contrary to what I feel will make me happy. Thinking that God would want to prevent me from true happiness and choosing my will over His, is an exact and tragic replication of original sin. I will carefully reject my opinion on these matters, bend and break my will and confidently choose His.
Many things that we once thought were going to make us happy in this world ironically become our suffering. The beauty enjoyed in our early years degrades with time; looking at ourselves in the mirror becomes an annoyance. The intelligence that once we bragged about is replaced with a foggy old brain; we try to hide it, but we cannot. The career or job that we thought would ‘make us happy’ is a continuous and empty struggle. The marriage that we so much wanted becomes a living martyrdom, ends broken, or in the worst case, we are separated from our loved one by death. The beautiful house that we dreamt of is now a burden, something more that we must maintain-or- we do not even have the health to walk through it. The car that we always wanted is now parked in our garage, but means nothing more to us other than transportation; it does not bring joy.
Regarding the SECOND, accepting God’s will in all circumstances of our life, is like a mysterious ‘spiritual exercise'. For instance, in the course of an illness we wonder: is this God’s will and should I accept it quietly and passively? Should I pray to be cured? Should I even seek medical treatment? Will a miracle occur for the Glory of God? We really do not know, at least I don’t; our blindness and helplessness disarm us, exasperate us and finally humble us. We do not want to suffer, but we do. Sustained by divine grace we remain faithful. We are in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, praying “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (LUKE 22:42).
God tries to convey a message to us throughout our whole life: nothing will make us happy but Him. The Saints know that, they have completely surrendered their will to God. They desire the constant company of our Lord Jesus, and to please Him always. The Lord grants anything they ask, because their desires are also His desires, and vice-versa.