October 27, 2010

Reflection on Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians Chapter 5:18-25

Reading:  Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians 5:18-25

Brothers and sisters:

If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

Reflection:

The final selection from Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians softens the tone of the earlier chapters.  We hear in this final chapter a beautiful passage of the Holy Spirit.  We could say that everything Paul wrote to the Galatians up till now is expressed in the final verse.  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit” (Gal 5:25).  The Spirit gives life at baptism, communicating supernatural gifts that transcend the purely human qualities with which we are born.  Theologians consider the sever traditional gifts of the Holy Spirit to be supernatural and permanent, given by God to make a baptized person attentive to the voice of God; receptive to the workings of grace; zealous for the things of God; and, consequently, obedient and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.  

Paul argued throughout the letter to the Galatians against the power of the Mosaic Law to save a person.  He concludes now by saying that people who live according to the free gifts of the Spirit will produce the fruit (not fruits) of the Spirit, that is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It’s a partial list, as Paul says that “there is no law against such things,” because they show that Christ lives and acts in those who produce such fruit.  As Jesus had said so clearly, “A tree is known by its fruit” (Luke 6:44).

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