VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In order to discern whether something comes from God, Christians must first reflect whether it leads to serving others or revolve around themselves, Pope Francis said at his early morning Mass.

In his homily Jan. 7 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope reflected on St. John’s first letter, in which the apostle notes the importance of testing “the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

The pope explained that in order to discern what is happening in one’s soul, one must first see if their good feelings acknowledge the presence of Jesus Christ made flesh in the presence of others.


“I can feel so many things inside, even good things, good ideas,” the pope said. “But if these good ideas, these feelings, do not bring me to God who was made flesh, do not bring me to the neighbor, the brother, they are not from God. For this reason, John begins this passage of his letter saying: ‘This is God’s commandment: that we believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ and that we love one another.'”

A Christian, he continued, is one who remains “in God” and does not speak only of spiritual matters, but puts them into practice through works of mercy that are “precisely the reality of our belief that the Son of God was made flesh.”

Christians, the pope added, are called “to visit the sick, give food to those who have nothing to eat, to care for those who are discarded.”

“Why? Because each one of our brothers and sisters, whom we must love, is the flesh of Christ. God became flesh to identify himself with us. And the one who suffers is Christ who suffers,” he said.

Service to others, he continued, is the authentic sign that one is following the path of the good spirit and “on the path of the Word of God made flesh.”

Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for the grace to discern whether what is in their hearts “is the spirit of God which brings me to serve others or the spirit of the world that revolves around myself, my isolation, my selfishness.”

“Let us ask for the grace to know what is happening in our hearts,” the pope said.