Archived Story

As we begin another year, remember who you really are

Published 9:49am Friday, January 17, 2014

By the Rev. Tim Reker
St. Theodore’s Church

The Christmas season has ended. The magi (or kings) have come and gone. We have celebrated the baptism of the Lord once again. A new year has begun. Which way will we go in 2014?

Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist teaches us who Jesus is, his identity as the Beloved Son of the Father and his mission as the Messiah sent to save us.

As we set out on another year, we may need to remember who we are, beloved daughters and sons of God, and where we are sent into the world to continue the mission of Jesus in our day and age.

A Christian understanding of the human person, at least according to St. Paul in Galatians 5, teaches us that there are basically two ways that we can go: live by the Spirit or live by the flesh.

Those of us who are baptized into Jesus Christ have received the Holy Spirit and are to live always according to the Spirit’s guidance.

One word of caution: When St. Paul uses the word “flesh” here, he does not mean our human bodies and their legitimate needs, desires and appetites. Living according to the flesh means that one lives as if there were no God.

There is a human tendency or inclination to limit God’s influence on certain parts of our lives and weeks; we have to struggle against that. Some actually choose to live as if God does not exist and do not accept the Ten Commandments, Jesus’ dual command of love or the Beatitudes. That is their right as free human beings, but St. Paul warns us about the consequences of such a choice or direction (Galatians 5:19-21). We can read of these results in other sections of this newspaper or various media sources, and they can be rather salacious.

The proper focus, of course, is the way of the Spirit. St. Paul’s list of the fruits of the Spirit can serve as a guide or checklist for us throughout the year (Galatians 5:22-23): “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

As we take time to reflect and pray each day, especially at night before going to bed, this list can help us review our thoughts, words and actions to see how well they correspond. For the graces and fruits received, we can thank and praise God; we can also ask forgiveness for the ways we fall short. These fruits can serve as a guide when we begin our day or are facing an important decision, too.

Perhaps you have made a resolution or two regarding healthier eating and exercise; that’s great and I wish you success. Even more important for your long-term health (or salvation) is choosing the way of the Spirit and the fruits that this option brings. Imagine what a difference we would notice at the end of the year if we truly strived to live according to the Spirit! Which way will we go in 2014?