The Spirit Dwelling Within

We may have heard the phrase that “Christians live in the world, but are not of the world.” While it is true that we are temples of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God dwells in each of us, the world is occupied and oftentimes driven by the Evil One, the spirit of darkness and death. We are nevertheless assured of God’s presence in us, however, as John tells us in his letter: “Those who keep [God’s] 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. You belong to God, children, and you have conquered [the Evil One], for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 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.” (NAB, 1JN 3:24, 4:4, 6)

We have nothing to fear in this world as we are members of the Body of Christ, the same Christ who conquered death and sin. There is nothing in this world that is more powerful than the love and grace of God, and we, as children of the Father, have the freedom to live according to the Law of Love, for we have received by faith, through grace, the indwelling eternal Spirit of God. In the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come … on earth as it is in Heaven.” We bring about the Kingdom of God in this world as we live virtuously, by loving God and our neighbor through the faith we have received and in the hope of eternal life in the perfection of that same Kingdom in Heaven.

When I am frightened or challenged by the spirits of this world, give me confidence and strength to turn to you, Lord, realizing and remembering that you have already defeated the Evil One, his offer of sin, and the consequence of death. I am a child of the Kingdom; I am a child of God, and the Spirit that dwells in me is greater than any spirit in this world. Allow me to be a light in this world of darkness and despair, where sin seems to abound, to make known your love in all that I do. “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”  Amen.

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Sin Can’t Win

After the Magi gave homage the infant Jesus, they are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and Joseph is also warned by the Angel of God that the life of Jesus is in jeopardy and that he is to flee immediately to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.

On this Fourth Day of Christmas we reflect on the magnitude of sin and the great lengths one may go in pursuit of pride, prestige, and power. King Herod was threatened by the presence of the baby Jesus, knowing that the prophecies about him might be true, so “when Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.” (NAB, MT 2:16) In a most horrific act of evil, Herod slaughtered these innocent babies, yet unbeknownst to himself, he was also fulfilling another prophecy about the coming Messiah.

While it is uncertain how many children were murdered in Bethlehem, we remember that they died at the hands of a paranoid and evil ruler strictly because of Christ. Furthermore, the suffering experienced by the families of these innocents would continue for generations. Sin is never isolated and individual. We are communal by nature, and our sins, although we think of them as quiet and private, never really are. God triumphs here. After the death of Herod, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph returned to the Promised Land from Egypt, just as God had brought his Chosen People to the Promised Land from the slavery of Egypt generations earlier.

Sin continues to impact all of us, even sins of generations past, but sin has no power over God, and his love will not be shut out. Jesus, our innocent Savior, will also experience the full force of sin at his Passion, but once again, he will demonstrate his power over this world and its evils through his Resurrection and Ascension. We are called to trust God, knowing that he is in control, even in the darkest moments of life.

Father, allow me to trust you. Help me to see that where sin abounds, your love is present all the more, and that all things, even evil ones, will work out for your glory since nothing can overcome your love. Increase my faith in you, Jesus. Amen.

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