Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus
Galatians 5: 18-15
Luke 11: 42-45
The Apostle Paul is very much aware of that human beings are pulled in two directions. He often spoke of the struggle or warfare between the spirit and the flesh. These are two principles of action deep in human psyche. Early in the twentieth century Freud described the Ego and Id in constant tension and how the Ego seeks to control and channel the impulses of the Id. Going back to the passage of scripture before us notice that the translator choose to capitalize "Spirit". That is because Paul uses the word spirit and Spirit interchangeably. Not all the sins listed are classic sins of the flesh, there are also actions in which others are hurt and excluded. Idolatry and sorcery are motifs of the pagan environment in which the Galatians lived. Those who live in such a manner will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If Paul was writing in 2014 he would probably come up with a somewhat different list. In his recent apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis has his own list: an economy of exclusion and inequality, the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose, unbridled consumerism, widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries and unjust social structures that foster inequality. For Pope Francis these are the institutional sins that imped the coming of the Kingdom of God.
If allowing the flesh to rule brings such conflict and unhappiness In contrast Paul then enumerates the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace. These come from acts of patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To reach this point is hard work. Paul notes that "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires." But then we don’t do this on our own, we "follow the Spirit"
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.