In today's first reading Paul teaches us a few fundamental truths about the Spirit of God and the spiritual life. He uses an analogue that we can all understand. Only a man's spirit within knows what pertains to the man. I cannot know all that what you think or feel unless you tell me. Of course we can guess the feelings and thoughts of people we know fairly well, but not all of them and not all the time. I alone know my worries, my doubts, my aspirations, my plans, my ambitions, unless I choose to reveal them. In the same way God's Spirit knows the depth of God. But God has chosen to give his Spirit to some, like Paul "...so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.".
Paul has been chosen to impart this knowledge to others on his part. But for his listeners to grasp this knowledge they need to be disposed to the Spirit; they need to be spiritual. That too is not difficult to understand. A person who believes that there is nothing beyond the material realities cannot understand things of God. For him it is utter futility if people are ready to die for what they believe. A person who thinks that there is nothing more important than the satisfaction of the sexual urge cannot understand the value of chastity. Similarly, a person who is ready to do anything in order to grow wealthy cannot understand the value of generosity.
We need to know our need of the Spirit. When Jesus told his disciples that he would have to go in order for them to receive the Spirit, they answered that it was enough for them if he stayed; the Spirit was still a stranger to them. We pray for the courage to let go of the things that keep us captive and insensitive to the gifts of the Spirit.
Tuesday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
31st August 2010