Message from Fr Gary Summer 2016
Fruit of the Spirit
Summer is exciting for many reasons, kids are out of school, vacations are being planned, flowers are in bloom, and the sky is eternally clear and blue. The weather, is undoubtedly, hot; which indicates an importance to keep ourselves hydrated. Drinking water is beneficial on many levels: it helps with the hydration of internal organs, enabling them to function properly; the hydration of skin, keeping it looking fresh and healthy; weight control, it produces increased energy, helps flush out waste and toxins and it maintains our overall health.
As good stewards of the gifts entrusted to us by God we must care for our bodies, not only physically, but spiritually, too. As the days get longer and we enjoy the season of summer, our Holy Orthodox Church prepares to celebrate Pentecost. This offers us an opportunity to reflect on the way we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. Remember, Pentecost is the celebration of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Disciples of Christ 50 days after our Lord’s Resurrection.
The Holy Spirit works within us only when we voluntarily submit to living a life of holiness. St. Paul writes to the Galatians (5:22-23), “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” When we live according to the “fruit of the Spirit” our lives produce the “seed” of love. Fr. Anthony Coniaris writes, “Love is the eternal seed from which all nine fruits grow: Joy is love’s cheerfulness, Peace is love’s confidence, Patience is love’s composure, Kindness is love’s consideration, Goodness is love’s character, Faithfulness is love’s constancy, Meekness is love’s comeliness, and Self-Control is love’s conquest.”
For fruit to grow the plant (or tree) must be properly maintained. Water is a key component. For the “fruit of the Spirit” to grow within us, we must nurture the “seed of love.” This is a difficult thing to do in a world where earthly pleasures are glorified. St. Paul prefaces the above mentioned passage to the Galatians by explaining (Gal 5:19-21), “The works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, and revelries.” There is no room in the life of a Christian for the works of the flesh.
Properly maintaining the fruit of the Spirit transcends our personal relationship to God and extends to our relationship with each other. If we say we love God but have hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions towards our brothers, we are deceiving ourselves (1 John 5:20).
As we prepared to celebrate the great feast of Pentecost let us reflect on the way we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. Do we sow the seeds of love, and strive to penetrate the works of the flesh? Nowhere, in every circumstance are we going to see eye-to-eye on every issue, but as children of God, sowers of the seeds of love, and Christians preparing to celebrate Pentecost we must walk arm-in-arm determined to grow in the Spirit!
In Christ’s Service,