“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”1 John 4: 1
As I continue to reflect on the desecration of our Capital Building yesterday I find I am still ruminating on the signs and symbols of Christianity on display. There is this thing known as Christian Nationalism, which is an oxymoron. Christian and Nationalism just cannot be held together, and yet, there it was on display.
We do not allow national flags inside Catholic Churches because when we enter the house of the Church we are entering the temple of God where God reigns. When a coffin approaches the entry doors, if there is a flag draped over it, the flag is removed and replaced with a pall, a simple covering, before the coffin is brought inside the building. God’s house is a house for all people and national identity ceases to exist when you are with God.
This last Sunday we celebrated the visit of the Magi. These were people from the East, probably of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest pre-Christian religions prevalent in Persia (Iran and Iraq). This religion still exists today and its followers are called Parsees. There were prophets in this religion who predicted the birth of a savior. This group of Magi believed in the signs and visions they were given and risked traveling to Israel to see if they could find this savior. In other words, God was with them through their religion, too. God does not play favorites.
Catholics believe that salvation is meant for all of Creation, for all people. This Epiphany that we celebrated on Sunday revealed that Christ is the Light for the world, not for any one nation, not for Israel, and certainly not only for the United States, but for all. There are no favored nations under God.
False prophets have convinced Christian Nationalists that God is on their side against the world. Nothing could be further from the truth revealed to us through Christ Jesus. sometimes those in Judeo-Christian religions tend to think that our faith traditions are the only legitimate pathways to God. However, we now recognize that the spark of divinity exists in every human heart, for we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and have that spark of divinity within. If you are following that spark of divinity, even without knowing this is Christ, the fruits of the Spirit will blossom in your life — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, compassion, forgiveness, self-control, generosity, hope, and peace.
By their fruits you shall know who is following Christ, not by any signs or symbols they wear or carry. Those who bully others, who lack kindness, are mean spirited, pushy, unforgiving, miserly, vulgar, rude, and violent are NOT followers of Christ. By their fruits you will know them. Those who desecrated the Capital Building are not following Christ. They are following false prophets who have filled their heads with false teachings.
My beloved, test every spirit, for by their fruits you shall know them.