Flash

"A LIFE IN THE SPIRIT" 05/02/11

Rebano de Dios,



How is your Pentecost Prayer going? A chapter a day keeps the enemy
away!! If this is your first “reflection” what that means is that we
are reading one chapter a day from the Gospel of Luke/Acts all the way
to Pentecost so that the Holy Spirit can lead and guide us to the
people and places Jesus wants us to be and minister too. For those who
have begun this spiritual journey I am praying that the Holy Spirit is
revealing to you in the bible, the Word, exciting and wonderful ways
in which Jesus is using you personally as “benefit” to others, as St.
Paul revealed to the Church in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 12:7.



For example: has the Holy Spirit placed a family member or colleague
in your path, who is going through a really tough time in their
marriage, so you can encourage, counsel, and listen to them? Has the
Spirit asked you to go deeper into the study of your faith, so that
you can be a “benefit” to the Church as a catechist, bible teacher,
DRE, preacher, etc? Has the Spirit guided you to a commitment to
fight homelessness, poverty of education, or abortion? Has the Spirit
revealed to you that your marriage covenant needs a renewed commitment
to mutual respect and time spent together?



Again, do your best not to put your own human thoughts (false
assumptions and expectations) and limitations on the power and
authority of the Holy Spirit to use you as an instrument of God’s
healing, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, counsel, hope, and love. Do
not limit the possibilities and mandate of the Holy Spirit as to whom
or where you are sent, always, with the strength of the Spirit, be
“aware” and ready, like Isaiah to say “send me” when you are called
and then go with great rejoicing.



When you get there, rejoice not at the accomplishment, but as Jesus
told his disciples, returning from mission, “Rejoice because your
names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20. Amen to his Blood, there
is nothing sweeter than knowing Jesus has our names written in heaven.
For more scripture on rejoicing check out: 1 Thessalonians 5:16;
notice how St. Paul says rejoicing helps us NOT to quench the Spirit.
Philippians 4:4; notice how rejoicing reflects the spiritual gift of
kindness. 1 Samuel 2:1; please also take note how Hannah, the mother
of the prophet who anointed the first kings of Israel, Saul then
David, rejoices in her victory.



As I have begun to share with you, growing up Christian in the
Catholic faith, “knowledge” was a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:8)
I totally lacked and therefore I had minimal or zero understanding of
the Holy Spirit, Eucharist, Word, or any of the essential teachings
and truth of my majestic faith.



I had years of and plenty of “intelligence” about the Trinity, Jesus,
the Spirit, Sacraments, and memorized prayer, but my faith never went
from my head to my heart, and therefore I remained blind. “Theology”
is “faith seeking understanding.” Today, we continue, through the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, to seek to understand, to gain spiritual
insight, “knowledge,” of the Word and gifts of the Holy Spirit by
reflecting on this question, “How can I know if I am living in and
with the Holy Spirit?”



Without a doubt a person can know of the Spirits presence and power by
practicing the gifts that St. Paul reveals to the Church in Corinth,
“Gifts of healing, mighty deeds, prophesy, discernment of spirits, and
tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-10. My experience however, is that many
Catholics are not aware that they have these beautiful gifts within
them, just waiting to be awakened, and put to use. How can any
Christian, whose spiritual gifts have as yet not been awakened (we
will talk about the awakening soon!!) know, without a doubt, that the
Holy Spirit lives within them through their faith in Jesus Christ?



How? By honestly answering these questions: what are you attracted to
on a daily basis? What drives you, what consumes your thoughts and
time, what is the desire of your heart, the thing or things you crave?
Are the things that we are attracted to daily, the things we spend so
much or our time thinking about and doing, bringing us love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and
self-control (guys always pray for self-control!!). These are the
“fruits” of the Spirit which must be lived before the “gifts” can be
received and practiced.



This is and important point and needs more time and explanation, for
now take St. Paul’s life as an example: before Jesus appeared to him
and transformed his life (metanoia) he was a hater, liar, and
persecutor of the Church. Jesus will not bestow his “gifts” of
prophesy, tongues, healing, and mighty deeds, on a hater, so St. Paul
had to have a change of heart, give his life to Jesus and live the
“fruits” of love, peace, joy, before he receive the “gifts.” See
Galatians 1: 13-17; Acts 9 for St. Paul’s conversion and Galatians
5:22 for the “fruits” of the Spirit.



I digress!! Or are the things we seek, focus on, and spend tons of
our time thinking about and pursuing, are they keeping us angry,
anxious, and jealous? St. Paul explained this to the Church in Rome
in this way, and remember, he was not writing to the pagans in Rome,
but to those who had already professed their faith in the resurrected
Lord, Jesus Christ, “For those who live according to the flesh are
concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according
to the spirit with the things of the spirit.” Romans 8:5



“Flesh” for St. Paul means a “self-centered” life of sin, one without
the gifts/fruits of the Spirit because they are living with the wrong
spirit. My brothers and sister in Christ, make no mistake about this,
as the Didache, the earliest Christian writing outside of the New
Testament teaches “there are two ways, the way of life and the way of
death.” Any person living without the Holy Spirit, has only one
other choice, the way of death, the evil spirit, the enemies spirit,
the spirit of satan. Ouch, ugly, and real as the Word, written
through this awesome and Spirit inspired saint also shared with the
Christians in Galatia, “I say then, live by the Spirit and you will
certainly not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh has
desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, these
are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.”
Galatians 5:16-17 and please also read Deuteronomy 30:19. Amen to the
Blood of the Lamb.



So we CAN know, if we choose to look within ourselves and answer in
truth, whether we are living with the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit
or that of the enemy. As we say in the Sower, let me bring it to you
real, to make the point clear, through a personal example of how a
Christian can live in spiritual blindness, with the wrong spirit and
think everything is OK simply because they regularly go to Church on
Sunday, receive the Body and Blood of our resurrected Lord, and have
“intelligence” of the faith.



Growing up, my abiding refuge from family drama, jerks, problems,
mistakes, bad decisions, bad relationships, unfulfilled hope, was my
music, friends, and alcohol, but especially the music because I could
be alone and always have my music. So when I was depressed, angry,
struggling with something and wanted to be rid of all that, I would
just turn to one of my favorite artists like Bruce and listen to him
wail:



One soft infested summer

Me and Terry became friends

Trying in vain to breathe the fire we was born in

Catching rides to the outskirts

Tying faith between our teeth

Sleeping in that old abandoned beach house

Getting wasted in the heat

And hiding on the backstreets

Hiding on the backstreets

With a love so hard and filled with defeat

Running for our lives at night on them backstreets.



As I was listening to the music, things in my mind would change, I
would be ok, because somehow the music was an escape from the
difficulties and realities that I refused to confront and change.
Yes, the music, friends, and alcohol, for years, literally years,
would allow me to say, in difficult times, in bad relationships, in
the drama of life that really needed to change, _____them, _____ that,
and I would just continue to live this shallow, selfish life that the
enemy had me so convinced was still a Christian life.



Had I shown even the slightest interest in the Word, the bible, I know
now that Jesus, who through my Baptism and my mothers prayers, in the
power of the Holy Spirit, never gave up on me and continued to called
me to himself, his love, would have guided me to St. Paul’s letter to
the Galatians where I could have begun to “understand,” that the life
I was living was NOT of his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, because as St.
Paul revealed, the gifts of the enemy are OBVIOUS, all I had to do was
check them off and see the truth:



“Now the works of the flesh are obvious, immorality (check), impurity
(check), licentiousness (meaning all you can get, the Las Vegas
syndrome, check), idolatry (of the self, check), sorcery (praise God,
no), hatreds (check), rivalry (check), jealousy (check), outbursts of
fury (especially when drinking, check), acts of selfishness (two
checks), dissensions and factions (not sure), occasions of envy
(check), drinking bouts (two checks), orgies (TMI), and the like. I
warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will
not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 19-21



I was living a lie. I had swallowed the liars (John 8:44) biggest
lie, “everything is great, don’t change a thing, your really not that
bad of a person, hey all your friends are just like you so how could
it be wrong? All the ladies are yours, just don’t sleep with any
married women and you’ll be ok. And yes, continue to go to Church,
receive the Body and Blood, go to confession once a year just like
your Church asks you, and when you die Jesus, who as you know loves
you so much, will welcome you into his Kingdom.”



Again: ouch, ugly, and real. Liar, hater, deceiver. What a mess.
Praise be the name of Jesus Christ, today, I know that Jesus died on
the cross, shed his precious Blood, rose from the dead, and sent the
Holy Spirit for just such a mess as this, and that is why today and
for the past 20 years, my focus, my attention, my time, my constant
and most joyous attraction, is the Word of God and teaching of the
majesty of the Catholic Church because that’s the Church I got saved
in.



Through the Word of God I had a metanoia (we will speak of and explain
metanoia in depth, for now know it is the moment of a believers
personal encounter with Jesus, a spiritual transformation, when, in
our total surrender of the self, our faith goes from ritual/mind/self
to personal/heart/Spirit and that which attracts us is now “from
above” and not from below) and after metanoia and through knowledge of
the Word, I came to “understand” my faith and the sacraments,
especially the true presence of the resurrected Jesus Christ in the
meal of the Last Supper, the Body and Blood, the Eucharist and also
the truth of the Church I grew up in but knew so little about.



Sharing our failures, mistakes, and sins is embarrassing, humbling,
and necessary because the truth is that only the enemy wants us to be
silent about how Jesus really did love us through the mess, how Jesus
never did abandon us just like he said, and how a person no matter how
sinful and selfish they have been, can be forgiven and saved by the
Blood of the Lamb, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.



Now it’s your turn. How does your daily life reflect a life in the
Spirit? If you are, as millions do, living with the Holy Spirit,
please share your walk with other Catholics because many of our
faithful need knowledge, encouragement, and testimony as to the
presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. We need
Spirit led witnesses to testify and share with our faithful just how
that happened, how the Spirit became and now is present in their
lives, how life is so different when we are not constantly angry,
jealous, afraid, and constantly looking to be somewhere or someone
else, how our minds and hearts are no longer possessed by the
attractions of the world but now by the “things of God,” that which is
‘from above.’ Yes, our Church needs you to share your knowledge and
faith with others, how to live a life filled with the “fruits” of the
Spirit: again, love, peace, joy, and self-control, your witness is an
important part of God’s plan.



Just imagine if, through your sharing, your testimony, one lost soul
comes to Jesus, think of the glory and the anointing, think of the
celebration that the Word reveals will take place in heaven, “I tell
you there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner
who repents,” Luke 15:10, simply because you had the courage to share
your walk in the Spirit with someone who was away from Jesus and the
Church, trapped in the enemies world of ego/addiction/hate,
adultery/violence/greed, thinking, just as I always did that
everything was ok, when the spiritual reality was very different. Yes,
when you and only you, took the time to share your faith with them,
they listened, believed, changed, repented, and began a new life with
Jesus. Imagine it. This happens all the time. Do not put any limit
on the power of God.



However, after reading all this, with the Holy Spirit tugging at their
heart, what if someone’s answer is “no” I do not think I am living in
and with the Holy Spirit,” then take heart, I am with you, I lived
your life, do not be discouraged, the entire Sower ministry is praying
with you, in your self-reflection, in your honesty, in your seeking
the Truth, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is calling you to himself,
yes, right now, Jesus is calling you to his mercy and love. Here is
the next big step, the hardest part that only you have the authority
to change.



Yes, this may sound crazy, but only you can change it, God our Father
has done more than everything, by sending his Lamb, his Son, Jesus
Christ to die for our sins on the cross, rise from the dead, and send
us God the Holy Spirit. God’s Word has revealed that our freedom to
choose for or against God is sacred and inviolable, God will never
force us to love him, to live in his kingdom, he only invites us to do
so, through his Son Jesus Christ, “I have set before you life and
death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and
your descendents may live, by loving the Lord your God, heeding his
voice, and holding fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19 Jesus is the
Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6 Choose Jesus.



By choosing Jesus, in a way you never have before, in a way where all
the secrets you try to conceal are revealed, in a way that the things
of the world that once dominated your mind and heart are now literally
meaningless to you, in a way that tears of joy flow from your eyes
because now you realize, for the first time, that the life you led was
for yourself and not for Jesus, and now, right now, Jesus is there
offering you his love, forgiveness, and Spirit.



To choose Jesus in a way you never have before, ask yourself what you
have placed “above” God in your life: internet, cars, drugs, job,
money, vacations, house, alcohol, gambling, clothes, sex, yourself,
education, friends, children? What is above God in your life? We are
now getting into metanoia, but I do not want to leave those whom the
Holy Spirit is calling right now to Jesus without a way to respond.



Are you willing to change that? Are you willing to put no one and
nothing above Jesus? Are you willing to surrender the pride of
possessions, the love of money, the “I, me, mine?” Do not take this
lightly. This is NOT and easy choice. Authentic surrender of the self
is not easy because our society does not teach us to surrender but to
take advantage, to possess, to seek more not less, to always watch out
for number one. Remember the rich young man in the Synoptics who came
to Jesus seeking the way to eternal life? In Mark 12, that man went
away sad because Jesus revealed he was too attached to his possessions
to gain eternal life, his possessions were still in number one in his
heart and more important than God, and so when Jesus asked him to sell
them, and to follow him alone, the Word says “his face fell, and he
went away sad, for he had many possessions.”



A life in the Spirit means a total and authentic surrender of the
self. Everything that you have held as more sacred, important, and
above Jesus, must now “decrease and he must increase.” Nothing and no
one can ever be above Jesus, because there is no other Way, Truth, or
Life, because you were saved in no other name, because no one but
Jesus, not the angels, the saints, yourself, your mom, your pastor,
could die for your sins, only God in the person of Jesus Christ could
and has done that.



If your answer is yes, ‘I want to live a life in the Spirit, I choose
to give my entire self, my entire life to God,’ amen to his Blood and
right now place all this before Jesus, in a total surrender of your
‘self,’ give him your life, your love, your heart, and never again
place anyone or anything above him. An absolute essential for all
Christians in the Catholic faith, will be now to allow Jesus to
breathe his Spirit upon you, the same Spirit the disciples received on
the ‘first day of the week,” yes, allow Jesus to breathe his life into
you, receive the mercy of Jesus, the forgiveness of the Blood, the
sanctification of the Spirit, in the sacrament of Reconciliation,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20: 22-23. Now, you
walk in a new Light, now you walk with the Holy Spirit. Stay faithful
to the Word, Sacrament, and serving Jesus, and you will know the power
of his resurrection. Amen.



Whew!! I’m all done!! My suggestion would be to go directly to the
Word and come back to this and read it again, there is a lot to
absorb. United in Spirit, let us keep each other in prayer.



Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb. Read the Word. Walk in the
Spirit. Be a benefit to others.



Grace and peace,



Joseph Borba