Hey guys! Wow I took a little bit of a vacation from this blog of mine and I am missing it very much. Life got busy, I got lazy, and the rest is what they call history. But I am back again and I am remaking my goal to blog at least once a day. I think part of what I need to do is make the blogs shorter and more to the point. I am quite adept at taking a long time to say what I really want to say. The other thing that I am trying to do is have a weekly theme that goes with my writing. So I have mapped out some things for the rest of Lent and aim to talk about all of it. So our theme for this week will be “the fruit of the Spirit” that Paul talks about in his letter to the Galatians. Here is the text:
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
So let’s take the first one today:
Love. It is a word that is so often said and one that can be so passively given. It can also be a word that we dare not speak to each other, because it is such a powerful word as well, and its implications can be quite terrifying. But we can speak of love all we want. We can talk about it all day long, but the real challenge that is set before us is to live it. Will we make the choice to love over and against the other choices to suppress it, deny it, withhold it, manipulate it, etc. And how often do we choose to the other options? How many excuses can we give to why we don’t love the way we should? Are we honest enough with ourselves to say that it is not always “I don’t know how to love” but “I just don’t want to love!”
The reasons for this abound: love is costly. We have to lay bare ourselves in ways that seem to violate our identities and our deepest sense of pride. So often we do not love because it will expose our weakest selves, and we just can’t imagine what could happen as a result of doing that. Many of us have not been loved like we should have been; and so love is such a foreign concept, such a hidden idea to us that it almost seems like a fairy tale someone is trying to pass off as literal. We have lost the ability to imagine that love can be a reality.
In the midst of all of this confusion, we have a person who can guide us. Jesus walked this earth and loved people in ways that we still don’t comprehend. He spoke boldly and lovingly, he challenged and he consoled, he healed and yet he cut into the deepest interior of the lives of his audience. And all this was done in love. Jesus’ approach to love was not so much something to be believed in as much as it was and is a way to be. So St. Paul extends that invitation to us, to be love and to channel the love that God demonstrates in our lives to those around us. Yes it will expose us and make us vulnerable, but it will also set us free. And Jesus likes freedom, and he loves offering it to those who will trust his way of being.