“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” is a phrase we’ve heard often. More important, however, is the number of times we have experienced its validity. Even the Greek philosophers reasoned this truth and tried to raise their spirits to higher levels so as to escape this reality. It’s humanly impossible but Jesus tells us, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God” (Lk. 18:27) and that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, “Nothing will be impossible” (Mt. 17:20).
We often associate freedom for doing whatever we want and, in many ways, our culture has adopted this mantra as we witness the various individual expressions of personal beliefs or unbelief’s. It’s called relativism and it is what Pope St. John Paul II warned the Polish people against as he saw them moving closer to attaining their release from the yoke of communism. His warning continues to be a reflection of St. Paul’s warning in today’s letter to the Galatians when he cautions, do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.
The love of which St. Paul speaks begins first with God. Hans Urs von Balthasar used the image of a mother and newborn to describe this love. The newborn child, helpless and totally dependent, looks up at the mother, as she gazes with love on her new miracle. Through this experiences the child learns about love and, in time, also learns how to return it. The analogy applies well to us and Our Father in heaven.
True freedom from the flesh comes from our love of God, which we live through our active and servant love of others. Happy Independence Day.