To be frank, I am not a devout Catholic. Yes, I go to Church almost every Sunday and attend every Day of Obligation that falls on a weekday if I can. In between the weekly Masses, I seldom think about spirituality and divinity. Sure, I say a little prayer of thanks before my meals. Most of the time, I am distracted by so many things out there. I do not even have time for self-reflection. How then would I have time to listen to the divine whisper? Like in this very moment, I would rather play some video games, or join my family and watch TV. Where is my self-control? Temptation is everywhere.
Last Sunday was the Pentecost Sunday. It is a day of Solemnity according to my faith. A celebration of the descend of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples and over a hundred others thousands of years ago. The same fire that spreads to all corners of the world today. Some describe Pentecost as the birthday of the Church. To my surprise, the second reading during last week’s Mass has left a deep impression upon me, as though the passage talks to me. A Biblical passage that was written many years ago and yet, still relevant today. Regardless of your tradition or faith, I urge you to take a look, with an open mind.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.
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. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
If you read the above passage with an open mind, you would see a list of negative attributes alongside with another list of positive attributes. It does not matter where you come from, you should – I hope – agree that our world can be a better place if more of us are on that positive list, rather than on the negative list. Yet, if you look around, you may see people being selfish or in anger. If you look inside and be totally honest, you may even see more of those negative attributes lying within. Why is it so?
The answer lies in the desire of flesh. Our body naturally desires to lean towards those negative states. If we let our bodies go on an autopilot, we will be consumed by those desires. Temptation as some may observe. It seems so right, yet so wrong. Opposition of such negative desires takes great effort and it has to come before our Spirit bears fruit. We cannot love others if we do not first cast away selfishness. We cannot attain the state of joy and peace if we are overwhelm by envy and jealousy.
Perhaps, the path to holiness is that the next time our bodies desire us to do something, we should pause and ask ourselves: Is this what the Spirit desires? Fighting off our bodily desire is hard. But the good news my friends is that the Holy Spirit dwells within us.