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Notes from Fr. Vitalis

July 9th, 2023 - You Are Not in the Flesh

Dear Parishioners,                                                                                                        

We often speak about flesh and Spirit in the Christian life. What exactly does it mean? In today’s second reading Saint Paul clarifies the distinction between flesh and spirit in relation to baptism. The gift of baptism incorporates us into the mystical body of Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. How can one live in the spirit while carrying the heavy burden that the flesh seems to impose on us? Life indeed is a paradox. Both spirit and flesh play significant role in our relationship with God. Spirit often is associated with godliness while flesh takes the place of depravity. Flesh is still an integral part of our being but one that seems so difficult to contain.

Flesh is associated with the weakness of the mind and body not measuring up to the desired spiritual expectations. In flesh, Adam and Eve took the first wrong step in the garden. In flesh we have also made wrong choices. Flesh is associated with pleasure and desire that moves us to seek our own interest even if it contradicts God’s law. Saint Paul admonishes the Romans: “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

Where does the spirit that St. Paul speaks come? It comes through Jesus Christ. In the waters of baptism, we become a new creation and the spirit of God is given to us. We become God’s adopted children. The only problem is that we are not always strong in our faith and in our new life. Therefore, the flesh appears to draw us back to the old ways and often ungodly ways. How many times have you made promises to God and breaks them shortly afterwards? How many times have we chosen to pleasure ourselves and disregard the commandments?

It is a battle for us to be faithful to God who loves so much. Today’s readings remind us of the essential things in our relationship with God. The Lord is the only one who can save us. We cannot save ourselves. Therefore, we should joyful await his coming. We shall be on a look out for his arrival. The Israelites were promised that their savior would come riding on a donkey. Jesus fulfilled that promise when he rode into Jerusalem. Our unfaithfulness drowns us in sorrow. The desire to please God remains in us but our actions seem distant from our good intentions. The conflict between spirit and flesh seems to rage on. But our hope is in Jesus who assures us that the Father has handed over to him the ability to console those ‘who labor and are burdened.”

Is there an end to this human frailty? The more we try to overcome; the more it seems we are bound to fail. Who will save us? Jesus will. First, he says: “Come to me.” That should be our first step. To go to him is to break the shackles that hold us down. In exchange he takes away our burden and offers us something far better, peace and inspiration. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” In Jesus lies our hope and let your heart be strong for he comes to save and not to condemn.

Grace and Peace to You,

Fr. Vitalis