October 17, 2018
by Cindy Murphy McMahon
Creightion University's Communications and Marketing Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
Lectionary: 469

Galatians 5:18-25
Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
Luke 11:42-46

Praying Ordinary Time

Paul’s message to the Galatians in the first reading is disquieting and yet comforting at the same time. His listing of the works of the flesh, “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissentions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies,” pretty much covers the roots of most of the problems in human interrelations – then and now.

When we are tempted to think that we have progressed as human beings so far beyond the ancient world, we need only to reflect on this list to say that humans are still tempted by the very same weaknesses in human nature. (The only one that may have lost some foothold is sorcery, but even that has many forms in modern times and still is an influence for some people.)

Lest someone feel self-righteous about not being prone to many of the sins on the “bad list,” Paul includes rivalry, acts of selfishness, occasions of envy… Hmmm. I don’t know about you, but those sound way too familiar to me.

So where is the comfort? Just reflect on the words that are the fruit of the Spirit that he names: "Patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." What happens when we ponder that list? Doesn’t our heart rate slow down, our mind and body become more relaxed? Don’t we feel quietly happy? The other list is hard and tense and divisive, whereas these words are like balm. What would happen to our minds, our bodies and our daily routines if we began each day, or reflected during the day, on patience, kindness, gentleness, etc.?

And even more good news in this message from Paul is that these fruits are not automatic, but they are possible. So, if we try to do the things our faith calls us to do, but we fall short, we don’t give up. We simply need to be reminded, just as the Galatians did. We can remind ourselves, remind others, start fresh. Just like Paul told the early Christians, we must take steps in our lives to follow the Spirit in order to truly live in the Spirit. If we do that, the fruit of the Spirit will grow in us more and more.

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