When John gets into one of his mystic moods (as he does in our first reading today) and speaks with this urgency, with this quite apparent yearning for clarity about something that he cares about deeply, he can be --- quite to the contrary! --- hard to follow and even almost obscure.
What he says might be clearer if I pull five stages or steps out of these two readings, five advances towards God that John suggests --- not that any one of them excludes any of the others or might not happen at the same time as another.
To me John seems to indicate that God provides a revelation, a truth about Himself and the life that He offers us, that is available for anyone who seeks life. A second step would be our seeing this revelation, and a third would be our recognizing it for what it is. I think that these two readings do present this experience in these three aspects: God's self-revelation, our seeking God, and the meeting of the Holy Spirit and us in that search for God.
From that comes our understanding of what it is that God is revealing to us, and on that basis we can change or grow. And those two are very separate: knowing the truth and living it, recognizing goodness and practicing it, are very different things....
Now God is far beyond our comprehension but is always revealing Himself mightily, and for our part we must also always be trying to see Him more completely and more clearly. We must sift through the many experiences that we have, the words spoken to us, our insights, just everything that touches us in a day, and try to recognize that every bit of it is part of our conversation with God --- and recognize His work as He acts to bring us to live in His love.
As we understand we can cooperate better with Him (although our cooperation simply cannot depend on our understanding) and can make the changes that will help us grow as He wishes.
What I have written here is not a substitute for John's words, but maybe they might help us to let them penetrate us and to hear John better.
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