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THE LIFE ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT IS OPPOSED TO THE LIFE ACCORDING TO THE FLESH
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Friday, 5th Week of the Year, February 13, 2009
Gen 3:1-8; Ps 31; Mk 7:31-37


"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons" (Gen 3:6-7).


How deceitful sin is! It presents itself as something good, "a delight to the eyes," something "to be desired," something which will make us happy and give us pleasure. It presents itself as something sweet, pleasant, and beautiful. But after sinning, we see the reality. Our eyes are opened, and we feel guilt and depression. After the immediate pleasure, we see that we were deceived by an external appearance which presented itself as sweet, good, and desirable; but now we realize that we have fallen into sin and are wounded and distant from God, the only source of true happiness. And we are now suffering from the pain of guilt and depression. We now see ourselves as we really are, namely, sinners deceived by the pleasures of the world. We have lost our righteousness before God. We are now naked, no longer clothed with the righteousness of the Lord, or at least that righteousness has been diminished. We see that instead of living according to the Spirit, we are now living according to the flesh and in a worldly way. All this is as true of relatively small sins, as it is of large ones.


Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from sin (1 Cor 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18; 2:21-24), both from the original sin of Adam, with its negative consequences, as well as from our own sins and from the suffering of guilt that they cause us. He did this by his death on the cross, in which he accepted into himself our sin and guilt (2 Cor 5:21), and suffered their punishment for us, thus freeing us from sin and the pain of depression caused by guilt. When we believe in him, invoking the merits of his suffering on the cross-especially in the sacrament of reconciliation (Mt 18:18; Jn 20:23)-we are justified and renewed, not by our works, but by our faith (Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16); and are made righteous, new men, a new creation, new creatures, people born again in Jesus Christ, who are now clothed with Jesus Christ (Gal 3:27; Rom 13:14), and who walk now according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh.


We are made righteous and resplendent before God, with the risen Christ shining in our hearts (2 Cor 4:6), illumining and transforming us, and calling us to abandon sin in the future, together with worldly fashions and styles, in order to truly live now in the Spirit, and no longer mix together the ways of the Spirit with those of the flesh, no longer giving mixed signals and an ineffective witness by living in worldly ways, living according to the flesh. We are rather to behave now as persons who have been completely renewed in Jesus Christ. We are even to renounce worldly pleasures, to serve but one Lord only (Mt 6:24) with all our heart (Mk 12:30), with an undivided heart. In this way we will grow in the grace and love of Jesus Christ, and be transformed "from glory to glory" in him (2 Cor 3:18), and thus be lights in the darkness of this world for others (Phil 2:15), giving a clear witness that will help them.


 


 


 

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