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“In the Creation I gave my image to the soul; in the Incarnation I gave my Divinity, divinizing humanity”

The first letter of St. John: knowing how to discern inspirations (part two)

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This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (John 4,2-3)

"This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God ": for the umpteenth time John gives us the supreme criterion for understanding whether an inspiration comes from God.  He does this by expressing himself with the typical expression, which by now we are used to reading (by this you can recognize...),

"Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God ": this signpost is fundamental and is confirmed by the fact that John repeats it in his second letter: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God”. (2Jn 7-9). He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. Those who hold to the doctrine possess the Father and the Son. Earlier, the Evangelist had stated that one must not deny that Jesus is the Christ, and one must not deny the Father and the Son, but profess the Son in order to possess the Father; that one must believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.

In a little while He will say that we must acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and believe God and His testimony (5:10). We are quite accustomed to these traditional expressions of faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, equal to the Father. What is new to us is the well-marked emphasis: those who recognize Jesus Christ, who came in the flesh, are from God. Yet this is a fundamental affirmation which highlights the importance of the Incarnation and its consequences. Jesus is true man, with all the truth of his corporeality: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14). For this reason the Word of life was seen with our eyes, heard with our ears, and touched with our hands; for this reason Life became visible (1:1-3). Conversely, the flesh of the Word of God, is deified, is transfigured by the Holy Spirit, in a mysterious, yet real way.

The flesh of Christ makes material what is spiritual and human what is divine, while it becomes spiritual and divine because of its inseparable union with the person of the Son of God. For this reason alone, the flesh of Christ is able to give life to the world, and communion with it is communion with God and makes us (and our bodies) one body in Christ (1 Cor 10:16-17; Rom 12:5). It follows that the body of the faithful (because of faith and the sacraments) becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19), a member of the body of Christ (1Cor 6:15). We are therefore the body of Christ (1Cor 12,27), of the one who is the head of this body: whoever touches our body, touches Christ, touches God. If we understand all the novelty and beauty of this truth, we will be astonished and our whole life will change its meaning and value: our material body is the proper instrument for glorifying God (1 Cor 6:20; Rom 12:1; Phil 1:20), our mortal body is destined to be glorified as is that of Jesus (Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 13:44; Rom 8:11). Already now, the divine life of Jesus is manifested in our bodies (2 Cor 4:10). Promoting everything that contributes to the growth and integral development of men and women and their dignity is a concrete way of recognizing Christ who came in the flesh.

"Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. ": we have already seen that John is used to paint his pictures with only two colors: black and white. For this reason, what he said positively in v. 2, he repeats negatively in v. 3. Not recognizing Jesus (the historical Jesus, with all that this fact implies: his true humanity, the community derived from him, his Supper, his quality as God the savior...) is a clear sign that the inspiration does not come from God, but from his adversary, who tries in every way to disembody that Word who became man. We must understand that the true knowledge of God passes through that of the man Jesus and that the purification of sins is the effect of his blood.

St. Augustine takes us a step further: "those who lack charity deny with facts that Christ came in the flesh, because he became incarnate out of love" (Augustine, Meditations).

" This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming ": the Apostle points out that the misrecognition and distortion of the true reality of Jesus denotes the most dangerous action of the spirit of the antichrist (2:18).

"And even now is already in the world ": for John, this antichrist is already present in the world and is realized in all those who have broken fraternal relations with the Christian community, with its faith and its original preaching of the Word, heard, seen and touched. He is in the world, understood not only as a scenario in which good and bad act, but also as a human environment hostile to the true faith, polluted precisely by the presence of the anti-Christian spirit.

In the passage of December 22, 1903 Jesus tells Luisa that in the Creation God gave His image to the soul; in the Incarnation He gave His Divinity, divinizing humanity. And since in the very act in which the Divinity incarnated Itself in humanity, in that very instant It incarnated Itself in the cross - in such a way that from the moment Jesus was conceived, He was conceived united with the cross – it can be said that just as Jesus’ cross was united with Him in the Incarnation which He did in the womb of Mary, so does His cross form as many other incarnations of His in the wombs of souls. And just as the cross forms Jesus’ incarnation in souls, the cross is the incarnation of the soul in God, destroying in her everything that gives of nature, and filling her with the Divinity so much, as to form a sort of incarnation – God in the soul, and the soul in God.

It is not simply union, but incarnation, because the cross penetrates so deep into her nature as to make her nature itself become suffering, and where there is suffering there is God, as God and suffering cannot be apart. And the cross, forming this sort of incarnation, renders this union more stable, and the separation of God from the soul almost as difficult as is separating suffering from one’s nature. On the other hand, through union, the separation can easily occur. It is understood, always, that this is not the Incarnation, but a simile of the Incarnation.


don Marco
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