BEGINNING WITH THE SPIRIT
Do you ever think about the broad implications of things we may take for granted? For example, do you ever think about water without which we could not live? Water refreshes our taste buds; maintains our digestive system; cleans our bodies; feeds our plants; washes our cars; is in our coffee and tea, etc. Likewise, do you ever think about your Christian Faith? We know our Faith brings to us the trust of all we hold in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. But our Faith also leads us into the transcendence of needs here on earth. Let us take a for instance. There are those who believe that the two greatest underlying reasons for the success of the United States are the rule of law and the unselfish version of capitalism. So, the rule of law is critical. Paul’s letter to the Galatians asks us to consider whether the source the Spirit [the Christian Way of life], is from the law or Faith.
In John’s Gospel, 18:10, Jesus tells Pilate, “You would have no power [law] over me if it had not been given you from above.” All power, all law comes from the Father. The answer to Paul’s question should be that the Spirit comes from both. But as we know, even in our beloved country, some interpretations of our Constitution-granted laws have created great fissures between God’s will and our practice. As Paul says in Galatians, “Have you started with the Spirit and are now ending with the flesh?” We can find many contrasts between the interpretation of the law and the Catholic Christian Faith.
There is no law (civil nor criminal), that says we must worship God but Faith tells us that it is the ultimate reason for existence. There is no law that tells us we must honor our parents, but Faith says we must. There is no law that says we are allowed to kill, but there is law that says abortion is legal but Faith tells us we must protect life from conception to natural death. Law does not punish adultery, but Faith considers adultery a mortal sin. Law allows same-sex marriage which defies Genesis’ telling us that man and woman are to become one flesh [for the purposes of unity and procreation and for the benefit of the family]. Law does not tell us that we are to be charitable but our Faith insists upon it. Faith, not the law, tells us that we should neither gossip nor lie causing harm to others. So, in context, we would have to confirm to Paul that we receive the Spirit from Faith.
Our Constitutional laws are wonderful. Where would be without our civil and criminal laws? But many of the fissures caused by misguided interpretations of civil and criminal law compared to God’s law may be caused by cultural self-focus. But as God’s people, we have to look beyond these interpretations of the law and live the law of God. We need to bless the Lord for the enlightenment of the Spirit and praise the Church for shepherding the Truth to us for these thousands of years. We need to continue to learn about our Faith. It is incumbent on us to seek to encounter Christ. It is likewise incumbent on us to be an encounter with Christ for all whom we meet. Each of us is meant to be a joyful saint proclaiming our Faith passionately, though not like a pot boiling over or passively like someone asleep. As St. Theresa of Avila tells us, “A sad saint is a poor excuse for a saint.” Let us be joyful and live transcendentally and appreciatively in the arms of Faith. By Deacon Bill Masapollo