WE are reminded of this very grave responsibility of ours in the Gospel of St. John where Christ told his disciples that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, would be sent to them and that the Holy Spirit would the one to convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation. (cfr. Jn 16,5-11)
The Holy Spirit, he said, will convict the world in regard to “sin, because they (the world) do not believe in me (Christ); righteousness, because I am going to the father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
In other words, the Holy Spirit would be the one to put our life in its proper and ideal state. He will be the one to help us keep and strengthen our faith, hope and charity, that is, our shared life with God. He will be the one to teach us how to deal with the things of the world, as well as with the enemies of God and of our soul.
We need to learn how to live our life with the Holy Spirit, which is what our spiritual life is all about. This is what sometimes is called as the Life in the Spirit. Our life is not simply biological and social, or merely natural. It is first of all a spiritual life that is poised to enter into the supernatural world of God as we are meant to do.
If we can only give to our spiritual powers just a fraction of the attention we usually give to our physical faculties, I think we would be much better off. Our problem is that most of the time we ignore the needs of our spiritual soul while we pamper and spoil our body.
Just look at the time, effort and money spent on things of the flesh—wellness craze, looks, sports and fashion, body cult, etcetera – and compare these with the ones spent for our spiritual needs—prayer, sacraments, interior struggle, etcetera. You’ll notice there can hardly be any worse inequality.
That’s why, in the long history of ascetical literature written and lived by saints through the centuries, there has been that consistent insistence to curb the tendencies of the flesh to give way to the more important aspirations of the spirit.
We need to sharpen our ability to discern the constant promptings of the Holy Spirit in our life. For this, we need to do some spiritual exercises like praying, offering sacrifices, having recourse to the sacraments, waging ascetical struggles, undergoing continuing formation, etc.
We need to convince ourselves that by living the Life in the Spirit, we would be putting ourselves on the road toward the fullness of our humanity. It’s in that Life in the Spirit where we would be freed from the constricting world of our senses, emotions and passions.
In this regard, St. Paul once said, “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4,22-24)
We know that there’s always that tension between our flesh and our spirit, articulated by Christ himself when he told his sleepy disciples, Peter, James and John, to watch and pray, because “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
To remedy this predicament, Christ taught that we enter by the narrow gate—putting ourselves to some inconveniences and discomfort, etcetera – because “wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to perdition.