Wednesday, October 15, 2014

“Those who operate through the Holy Spirit are more equipped to resist temptation.”

“No matter how much individuals do through their own efforts, they cannot actively purify themselves enough to be disposed in the least degree for the divine union of the perfection of love. God must take over……..” ― John of the Cross, (Dark Night of the Soul)

Scripture Text: (GAL 5:18-25)
Brothers and sisters:
If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul is very much aware that human beings are pulled in two directions. He often spoke of the struggle or warfare between the spirit and the flesh. These are two principles of action deep in the human psyche. Early in the twentieth century Freud described the Ego and Id in constant tension and how the Ego seeks to control and channel the impulses of the Id. Going back to the passage of scripture before us notice that the translator choose to capitalize "Spirit". That is because Paul uses the word spirit and Spirit interchangeably. Not all the sins listed are classic sins of the flesh, there are also actions in which others are hurt and excluded. Idolatry and sorcery are motifs of the pagan environment in which the Galatians lived. Those who live in such a manner will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If Paul was writing in 2014 he would probably come up with a somewhat different list. In his recent apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis has his own list: an economy of exclusion and inequality, the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose, unbridled consumerism, widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries and unjust social structures that foster inequality. For Pope Francis these are the institutional sins that impede the coming of the Kingdom of God.

If we allow the flesh to rule, this decision on our part will ultimately bring with it conflict and unhappiness. In contrast Paul then enumerates the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace. These come from acts of patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To reach this point is hard work. Paul notes that "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires." But then we don't do this on our own, we "follow the Spirit" and rely on God’s grace. This is the mistake of many today; they try to manufacture grace on their own. IMMPOSSIBLE!

We can not give what we do not have. God is the source of all grace and if we do not approach Him with humility, all those gifts that St Paul speaks about will not be apart of our lives. This is an inconvenient truth but a truth none-the-less.

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