The second reading today is taken from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (and we’ll continue reading through Romans for the next two months). In this Sunday’s passage, Saint Paul makes a contrast between flesh and spirit. This should not be understood as a condemnation of the material or physical world. In fact, our Catholic Faith teaches us that to consider the material world as evil and only spiritual reality as good would be a heresy. We need only recall the creation story from Genesis to remind us that after God had finished His work He looked upon all His creation and found it very good. Consider also that the Lord Himself took on a human form, became flesh and blood. And the Church continues to make use of the Sacraments given to us by the Lord: material signs of His invisible Grace. Saint Paul is not teaching that the flesh is evil; he is, rather, saying that to live apart from the Spirit of Christ - that is, His Grace - we have no true life in us. We are, in a sense, lifeless flesh. “If you live according to the flesh, you will die”, says Saint Paul. So, how do we get the Spirit of the Lord to dwell in us? By prayer, the frequent and fruitful reception of the Sacraments, and by the pursuit of holiness. Then you will truly live!
We celebrated our nation’s Independence Day yesterday, July 4. This is an opportune time for us to reflect upon the great gift which freedom is, and the obligation that it places upon us. As Christians we should remember that God made us with a mind to know and a will to choose. Freedom is an inalienable right. God gave it to us – made it part of our very nature. It is not granted to us by any state or human power. It is, rather, the obligation of the state to protect and defend human freedom. This is the purpose of law enforcement and defensive armies. Freedom is a gift from God which enables us to choose the good. As we celebrate our nation’s birth, pray that God will preserve us from tyranny and evil. Pray that He will preserve us in freedom: freedom to choose the good, freedom to live for God.
May God bless you!