”Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
“Who is the liar?” wonders the Apostle John rather rhetorically in today’s 1st Reading (1 John 2:22-28), quickly going on to answer his own question: “Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ” is his swift conclusion.
John then goes on to elaborate on the Father/Son relationship, for as he points out and knew all too well, there would be many in the days and years and centuries to come who would play the role of deceiver as it relates to this union between God and Jesus. He reminds his readers that “the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him.” This Reading pairs perfectly with tomorrow’s Gospel (John 1:29-34) wherein John the Baptist testifies to the fact that the one who sent him explained that “upon whomever he saw the Spirit come down upon and remain,” he would be the one who would go on to baptize with the Holy Spirit. He would be the Son of God.
Saint Basil the Great, the man who along with Saint Gregory Nazianzen we commemorate by way of the celebration of their Feast Day today, once said “Hell can’t be made attractive, so the devil makes attractive the road that leads there.” That road is of course heavily-laden with landmines in the form of lies, all of which are designed to drive a wedge between us and our relationship with the word made flesh, to deprive us of a thriving relationship with Jesus.
“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that that we may be called the children of God” John will go in to remind us, yet we struggle to grasp the enormity of that statement. We struggle to fully understand the immeasurable power of the Eucharist. The great deceiver, Satan himself, somehow manages to fill our lives with so much noise that we forget who God is and we forget who we are: sons and daughters of a king who rules over a kingdom that will never end. The devil, realizing he is no match, feverishly throws the kitchen sink at us. He has to; his time will soon be over.
in two days the Church will celebrate yet another great saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. Of the struggle between the secular pull and our heavenly eternal destiny, she once said “we must often draw the comparison between time and eternity. This is the remedy of all our troubles. How small will the present moment appear when we enter that great ocean!”
The good news is that Jesus, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, knew that we would fall so he offers forgiveness, 70 x 7, to those who come to him with a humble and contrite heart. “You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins” John concludes, and as we reflect upon this idea of remaining within Jesus, we know that through penance and prayer, we can persistently ask Jesus to remove from us all that is not of him, a prayer that he anxiously awaits to answer for us as he sits at the right hand of the Father.
...and that’s no lie.