HOMILY THEME: The Works of the Flesh versus the Works of the Spirit.

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu



_“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” *Galatians 5, 19 to 21.*_

For persons who are yet to know Christ, these things Paul refers to as the works of the flesh are just normal unavoidable bodily necessitates. But for those who have been converted, their opinion is the very opposite. So, what is my attitude these things Paul is talking about? Do I agree with Paul that by indulging my flesh, I lock myself out of God’s kingdom or do I believe Paul didn’t really mean what he was saying?

When Paul was talking about freedom in yesterday’s first reading, he was not talking about freedom from the law; (freedom to do whatever we like, since Christ has died for our sake), Paul was only attacking the issue of circumcision. However, some Christians interpret Paul’s words to mean that regardless of what we do with our bodies, salvation is still sure for us.

Dear friends, the truth is that freedom is not the ability to do what my body feels like doing, freedom is the ability to do what God says I must do. Freedom is not living like an animal in the bush, freedom is opening my inner space for God to dwell. We just have to accept that we cannot live by the works of the flesh and still inherit eternal life. We cannot eat our cake and still have it. We cannot even pretend about it.

Pretence is precisely what Jesus noticed with the Pharisees who were so concerned about external things to the detriment of the purity of their hearts. That is why Jesus called them “unmarked graves, on which people walk over without realizing it.” Luke 11:44. By using such an analogy, Jesus wanted to know how rotten they become inside when they only care about the outside. Our true life is not what people see, it is what God sees.

Dear friends, let us start making real efforts to live genuine Christian lives by feeding our Spiritual selves so that our lives would be characterized by LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GENEROSITY, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL. As St. Paul explains, “those who belong to Christ Jesus have CRUCIFIED THE FLESH with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25.

Crucifying the flesh entails saying NO to its desires not only in public but especially in private where no one else sees. Crucifying the flesh cannot happen without edification of the Spirit. In fact, the more we edify our spirit, the more we overcome the pangs of our flesh. Remember the story of the two elephants fighting? Yes, a mother was telling her son about two elephants fighting inside him and the boy asked: “which of them will win?” She replied: “the one you feed.”

Think of how many hours you spend feeding your flesh. Think of the amount and the quality of bodily delights and pleasures you provide for your flesh each day. Then compare that with the number of spiritual pleasures you provide for your spirit daily; the hours you spend away from your phone, away from the world, alone with God; the hours you spend reading something of worth to educate your mind etc.

Now that you know the elephant you have been feeding, you also know why the battle against the flesh has not been very successful.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, cleanse me from inside out that I may live by the Spirit. Amen. St. Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of the 28th week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Galatians 5:18-25, Psalm 1:1-6 and Luke 11:42-46).


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