Liberty and Virtue by Father James Doyle

The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

Freedom is in the air and in our ear these days ever since July 4th, Independence Day.

Samuel Adams, patriot of the American Revolution: "A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.... While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.... If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security."

St. Paul this morning also reminds us of our own freedom:

Freedom is what we have-Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again.

St. Paul ends his letter to Galatians with a new call to freedom:

As for you, my friends, you were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you.

St. Paul met the risen Lord Jesus at the gates of Damascus and became a free man.  Ever since that meeting, freedom is a constant part of Paul's message; freedom from sin (Romans 7:14), freedom from death (Colossians 2:12-14; I Corinthians 15:26), freedom from the .flesh., from instinct (Romans 8:13), freedom from the law (Romans 6).  John 8:32 (Quote it).

The Gospel and liberty are identical, are one and the same. .The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

We humans are like a battlefield where two opposing armies are battling; the force of instinct, the .flesh., versus the force of the Holy Spirit. Instinct, the flesh, kills freedom and leads to slavery; it destroys our freedom, it destroys the freedom of others, it makes life together impossible; violence, envy, factions; passion which chains us to the flesh.

The Spirit, on the contrary produces the opposite; first love, then joy, which gives hope, even in difficulties. It makes us free and creates community. Freedom from the old life is the road we have to walk; it is made possible by the Holy Spirit given to each of us in baptism. The Spirit can be our leader, our guide in life; we must let ourselves be guided by Him. This reading is appointed for certain saints who did exactly that, and so are an encouragement to us. God.s Word proclaimed to us by our brothers and sisters who follow us.  A call out to us: We did so, so can you.

The Spirit has given us life; the Spirit must also control our lives.

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