Read: Galatians 5:18-25, Ps. 1:1-4,6, Luke 11:42-46
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
To belong to Christ is not simply a question of attending Sunday services, to belong to Christ as St. Paul tells the Galatians is to crucify one’s flesh with its passions and desires. Jesus himself told us that those who desire to follow Him must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow his steps. (Cf. Matthew 16:24).
Christianity is not for everyone. It is for those who would put their hands on the plough and never look back. (Cf. Luke 9:62) That is to say, those whose lives whether in secret or in public do not contradict their core values and beliefs, those who do not live in pretence.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus called out the Pharisees for their pretence. These holier-than-thou leaders only cared about maintaining public respect that they forget about cleansing the inside of the cup, that is, they forget to cleanse hearts. Jesus called them “unmarked graves, on which people walk over without realizing it.” (Luke 11:44).
What makes a person an unmarked grave? St. Paul answers this question in today’s first reading by listing out certain qualities to look out for such as: “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21).
By ending with “and the like”, St. Paul indicates that this list is not exhaustive. These evils should not exist in anyone who belongs to Christ not to mention one who regards himself or herself as a leader of God’s people.
Truth be told, these “works of the flesh” as listed above represent our natural human tendencies and if we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that we struggle with at least one or more of them. This is why St. Paul uses the word “crucify” to indicate how we must deliberately and consciously work on ourselves so as not to fall into any of them.
Is it easy to crucify the flesh? No. However, the secret of overcoming these strong desires of the flesh is feeding (strengthening) our spiritual being through daily meditations, prayers, bible study, daily masses and other spiritual activities. When we feed our Spirit, the results we get include “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Etc. (Galatians 5:22-23). If these virtues are lacking in you, just know that you have a lot of spiritual catching up to do.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, cleanse me from the inside out that I may live by the Spirit. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of week 28 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Galatians 5:18-25, Ps. 1:1-4,6, Luke 11:42-46)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu