Pentecost Sunday

Galatians 5:16-25

If you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you. When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warn you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course. You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.

                                       Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.

The second reading at today’s Mass provides us with a ‘game plan’, strategy and a map of life. We are provided with alternatives, either to conform to the spirit of the world or to conform to the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
We all have a choice – either to follow the path of least resistance or to follow where God’s Holy Spirit wishes to lead us.

We are all too familiar with the first path – it is a well trod one, one that readily appeals to us and our lower animal instincts. It is a path that is superficially attractive and tempting and one that is hard to break free from. These are the sometimes unhealthy habits of years, addictions, compulsions.
We are called by the Spirit to break free from bad habits and to a new way of thinking, acting and reacting.
The Holy Spirit wishes to aid us in our weakness, in our resolve, on our stick-ability. The Spirit comes to our rescue in our misery as we lie clogged in the quicksand of ingrained habits that cause us to sink the more we struggle to break free.

Pride, guilt, fear of the consequences of change, prevent us, slow us down, freeze us, in repetitive harmful ways of behaving, like a record with a needle stuck, or a skipping CD, we play the same tune over and over.
For many of us, we are faced with a long, arduous, path, with side-roads we take that lead us back to where we started instead of taking us where we want to go.

The Spirit acts as a spiritual GPS, or Sat-Nav, from our selfish inclinations to life in the Holy Spirit as described in the Epistle today.

Life according to selfishness and worldliness in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians reads almost like an sad and sorry and all-too familiar alphabet of immorality – anger, back-biting, coarseness, debauchery, evil inclinations, fornication, gross indecency, idolatry, jealousy, orgies, quarrels, sexual irresponsibility and so on.

But life in the Holy Spirit – being in a state of grace, in other word, is characterised by the fruits of love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, trustfulness, goodness, and self-control.
There is therefore in all of us a tug of war – in our conscious deliberate attractions and choices - between what we are and what we want to be; between how we see ourselves at this very moment in time on the one hand, and on the other, the best version of ourselves we would like to be, and feel we know we can be, with God’s help.

Life in the Holy Spirit is however not simply the avoidance of a check-list of vices, ‘I didn’t kill, cheat, steal, etc, but the pursuit of virtue through prayer, the sacraments and performing works of charity.

The reward of a life lived in the Holy Spirit is to inherit the Kingdom of God. The cost is 'to crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires' - the work of  a lifetime.
To sum up, we all have a choice, we all have a struggle on our hands, but the good news is that we have help and hope.

Come Holy Spirit once more into my life this day.

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