Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guided by the Spirit

Guided by the Spirit

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Brothers and sisters:  If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law…  (T)he 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. (Galatians 5:18, 22-25)


(Those who meditate on God’s law day and night) are like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.  Whatever they do, prospers.  (Psalm 1:3)


As I read St. Paul’s words to the Galatians, I was reminded of the meaning of baptism.  When we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we die to our old selves and rise with Christ.  We are reborn.  We are indelibly marked as sons and daughters of God and as members of Christ’s Church.  Our sins are forgiven.  We put on white garments as a sign that we have put on Christ.  And then we spend the rest of our lives becoming the people Christ has made us in baptism.  I am reading a book whose author writes that “redemption is rooted in a paradox, which can be summed up in a simple phrase: we become who we already are in Jesus Christ.”  (A Grace Revealed by Jerry Sittser, p. 24)

That same dynamic is at work as the apostle writes about life in the Spirit.  If we truly live in the Spirit, there is no need to live under the law.  The fruits of the Spirit that Paul names just naturally flow from us.   But when I look at what comes out of me some days, I am far from being a Spirit-filled person.  I am not always patient, kind or loving in my dealings with others.  In that tension between being who Christ has made us and becoming who we are, I definitely fall on the becoming side of the equation most days.


St. Paul says that the opposite of living in the Spirit is living according to the flesh, which results in “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.”  (Gal. 5:19-21a)  So as you pray today, take an appraisal of where you are on the spectrum from living according to the flesh to living in the Spirit.  Ask God for whatever help you need to live more fully in his Spirit.

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