Thursday, October 18, 2012

Follow the Spirit

Follow the Spirit

October 18, 2012
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

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.  Galatians 5:22-24

"Woe to you Pharisees!  You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces.  Woe to you!  You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk."  Luke 11:43-44


"Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are."  Felix Baumgartner


If we really and truly pay attention to Sacred Scripture, one might feel paralyzed to even wake up.  It nearly seems that everything we do (or are encouraged to do) by popular society will lead us into the proverbial fires of hell.Even something as seemingly basic as saving for retirement comes at the expense of giving to charity.
Some of these warnings, though, may not be for us.  Let's assume that most public laws are really not intended for the folks who read these e-mails and blog postings.  St. Paul's letter to the Galatians also makes such an assumption.  The criminal laws are "meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly."  Sure we have to slow down when we drive, yield the right of way, but we are not murderers, embezzlers, or thieves. 
If we are not criminal, then we might be more like the Pharisees than we might imagine.  Rushing out to the parking lot before Mass ends to get home for the kickoff of the "pigskin" as the Washington professional football team takes on its next opponent.  Heading down to the car dealership for a great "year-end" deal even though our current chariot has plenty of miles remaining in its mechanical life. Worry about appearances -- what we wear, how we look -- more than worrying about our internal self.
Paul's letter to the Romans (among other places in Scripture) reminds us that we don't have to be concerned with our physical nature.  He tells us "We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin." (Romans 6:6)
So the message to our Pharisaical selves is that if we live for the externals, the appearances of power and presumed prestige in society, then we will pay the price.  "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."  So, there is no choice.  We must live for God.


Just like most readers of Your Daily Tripod are unlikely to be criminals, most of us are not skydivers either.  Nor are we likely to ride to the edge of space in a balloon and jump off free falling back to Earth.  But I do bet that some of us were amazed at the feat of Felix Baumgartner when he stepped off his capsule on the way back to Earth last weekend.
Today's readings remind me a bit of Felix's last words before he stepped off the capsule's threshold: "I know the whole world is watching now and I wish the whole world can see what I see. Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are."
Our material needs are so small in the scheme of things.  As you go through today and every day in this Year of Faith, be aware of what you do to meet your basic needs and consider how others may not be able to meet their basic needs. 
As we enter the Year of Faith, how will you mark that year in your corporal works of mercy?

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