Word of Life May 2018

 
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal 5:22)
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St. Paul was writing to Christians in the region of Galatia, who had heard the Gospel proclamation from him. He was scolding them for not understanding the true meaning of Christian freedom. For the people of Israel, freedom was a gift from God who had brought them out of slavery in Egypt and led them to a new land, establishing a pact of mutual faithfulness with them. At the same time, Paul strongly affirmed that Christian freedom is a gift from Jesus. In fact, Jesus makes it possible for us, in him and like him, to become children of God who is love.

By imitating the Father as Jesus taught us and showed us through his life, we too can learn to have the same attitude of mercy towards everyone, and be at their service. (Mt 5:43-48; Lk 6:36; Mk 10:45). For Paul, the apparent contradiction in “freedom to serve” is possible through the gift of the Spirit that Jesus gave to humanity by his death on the cross. It is the Spirit who gives us the strength to come out of our prison of selfishness, which is burdened with divisions, injustices, betrayals, and violence. He leads us to true freedom.

“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.“

Besides being a gift, Christian freedom is also a commitment. Above all, it is a commitment to welcome the Spirit into our hearts, making room for him and recognizing his voice in us. “Above all, we must become more and more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us,” Chiara Lubich wrote in the October issue of Città Nuova in 2000. “We have a great treasure in our innermost being, but are not sufficiently aware of it … To hear the voice of the Spirit and follow it, we must say no … to temptation, reject its suggestions and say yes to the tasks God has entrusted to us; yes to love for our neighbors; yes to the trials and difficulties we encounter… By doing so, the Holy Spirit will guide us and give our Christian life gusto, vigor, drive and brightness, without which it cannot be authentic. Then, whoever is with us will notice that we are not only children of our natural family, but also children of God.”

In fact, the Spirit calls us to step aside from being the center of our concerns in order to be more receptive to others, to listen to them and share material and spiritual goods. He calls us to forgive or take care of the most varied people in different situations of daily life.

This attitude allows us to experience the typical fruit of the spirit: our personal growth toward true freedom. This brings out and develops talents and resources in us that would have stayed buried and unknown had we continued living wrapped up in ourselves. Every action of ours is an opportunity not to be missed, to say no to the slavery of selfishness and yes to the freedom of loving.

“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.“

Those who accept the work of the Spirit in their hearts also contribute toward building positive human relations through their daily activities, at home and in society. Carlo Colombino, an entrepreneur, husband and father, owns a company in northern Italy.
Out of his 60 employees, around a quarter are not Italian and some of them have had traumatic past experiences.
“Even the workplace can and should facilitate their integration,” he told a journalist. “Our work includes quarrying and recycling construction materials, and I have responsibilities toward the environment and the area where I live. Some years ago, the economic crisis hit us hard: should I save the business or the employees? We made some people redundant, talking it over with them and finding the least painful solutions. It was a dramatic experience with sleepless nights.

“I can do my job either well or poorly. I try to do it as best I can. I believe in the positive influence of ideas. A business focused only on turnover and figures will not last long. People must be at the center of all we do. I believe in God and am convinced that harmonizing business and solidarity is not a dream.”

Let’s courageously set in motion our personal call to freedom, in the environment where we live and work. This will allow the Spirit to touch and renew the lives of many people around us, and move history toward a future of “joy, peace, patience, kindness.”

Letizia Magri

3 Cfr. C. Lubich, We have a Treasure, New City, 44 (2000), 10, p. 7.

 

 

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  1. Mark

    This is a wonderful exposition of our need to rely on God’s Holy Spirit to enrich our lives and take advantage of the opportunities God presents to us daily to be Jesus to our neighbors.

    Reply