Daily Reflection
October 13th, 2004
Howie Kalb, S.J.
Jesuit Community
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Cardinal Newman believed that “God has created me to do him some service…  I may not know exactly what it is in this life but I shall be told in the next.”  So the hope of knowing and doing that service in this life could come from being in touch with the Holy Spirit.  That’s why Paul admonishes the Galatians and us, to be “guided by the Spirit,” to “live in the Spirit,” (i.e. in his presence) and “also follow the Spirit” (i.e. be faithful to his inspirations).  This would make our odds better for knowing and fulfilling God’s plan.

Next, Paul tells us that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires” thereby implementing the Spirit’s program.  This crucifixion is not to be enacted physically, like some of the penitents who scourge their bodies to blood and fast from food until damaging their health.  The crucifixion is rather the killing of the temptations and attractions to the “works of the flesh” that Paul lists.

In the process of crucifying the “works of the flesh” Paul would hope to see us begin to experience the fruits of the Spirit; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  And the more we exercise these virtues they should grow stronger helping us to mirror our leader, Christ Jesus.

Unfortunately, as the atheist, Friedrich Nietzsche, once told a group of Christians: “Yuk, you Christians disgust me, if you really are redeemed, why don’t you look redeemed?”  Perhaps he read Paul’s letter to the Galatians and that’s why he expected to see the fruits of the Spirit more evident in the lives of Christ’s followers.

From time to time, it’s a healthy practice to analyze how well we are manifesting these fruits of the Spirit.  Are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, etc. becoming more visible to our friends and neighbors?  This periodic reflection could give us a clue as to how well we are “living in the Spirit” and “following the Spirit” and thereby fulfilling God’s service in this life.      

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