Read Romans 8:12-17, Ps. 68:2,4,6-7,20-21, Luke 13:10-17

“If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

To live according to the flesh is to behave as if God’s commandments do not apply to your life. It is living as if there is no God. It is to be solely concerned about the gratification of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21).

St. Paul says, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die.” This was the same warning God gave to Adam and Eve, but the devil convinced them that they would not die. Many Christians still do not believe they would die if they gratify the desires of their flesh at the expense of obeying God.

Just as Adam and Eve died when thrown out of the Garden of Eden, we die when we live according to the flesh. Someone once asked me: “Why did God create the human genitals if He doesn’t want us to use them whenever the occasion demands?” My response was, “God also created the spiritual aspect of our being to help us control and properly use our genitals.” We are not just physical bodies; we are also spiritual creatures.

If we fail to build our spiritual selves, we will become no different from lower animals. God did not give us commandments to punish us but to help us live our lives to the fullest. Embrace self-discipline. Consider the millions of people who perish today because they completely ignore God in their pursuit of bodily pleasure.

Always put God first. The desires of the flesh are strong; however, they can be controlled. As a human being, Joseph was aroused at the sight of the naked body of Potiphar’s wife when she seduced him. However, Joseph resisted because he feared God. This is why the scriptures say that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Your body may be craving for pleasure; don’t think about the immediate satisfaction but consider the long-term consequences. You will find the strength to resist.

In today’s Gospel passage, we see a practical demonstration of the great commandment. When Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest, His response was: “To love God and our neighbour as ourselves.” We cannot claim to love God if we don’t love our neighbours – especially those suffering around us.

In the synagogue, there was a woman who was bent over. She had suffered like this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he had compassion for her and healed her. This did not go down well with the ruler of the temple because, for him, this healing was a breach of the Sabbath law. Jesus was shocked at his hypocrisy. If he can save his donkey from dying on a Sabbath day, why does he think God will be angry for freeing a human being from pain on a Sabbath day? If you can see God in others, it will be easy to love them without necessarily offending God in the process.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, help me to conquer my flesh. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of week 30 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Romans 8:12-17, Ps. 68:2,4,6-7,20-21, Luke 13:10-17).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu