Day 346: Fruits of the Spirit

Acts 25:1-12 Festus sought to foster good relations with the Jews and was inclined to send Paul to Jerusalem to be tried by the Sanhedrin there. Under such circumstances, he would not have received a fair trial. Paul sensed this and appealed to Caesar Nero, an appeal to the highest court in the empire, a right he possessed by virtue of his Roman citizenship. (CCC 2298)

Ch 25:13-27 Festus planned to fulfill Paul’s request and sent him to Caesar, but he was not clear on the charges against him and did not know what to report. When Herod Agrippa II, a descendant of Herod the Great, who at the time had been made a Roman “king” of territories in northern Palestine, visited Felix and expressed interest in Paul’s case, Festus arranged a public hearing before Agrippa. Luke noted two more parallels to the trial of Christ: Agrippa’s interest in hearing Christ speak was similar to that of Herod Antipas in Christ’s trial, and the Roman judges in both trials believed in the innocence of the accused. 

Galatians 4:1-11 Like children, the people of Israel needed to mature and be guided by others before they were capable of receiving their inheritance. The Incarnation marks the moment of maturation, and now the inheritance is made available to all who respond in faith and accept God’s offer to find redemption and eternal life in Christ. (CCC 422, 1972)

Ch 4:3 Elemental spirits: A reference to the pagan belief in gods who controlled the cosmos, which enslaved the pagans (cf. verses 8-9). (CCC 1963)

Ch 4:4-5 The Birth of Christ happened at a time predetermined by God in his plan of redemption. Paul emphasized both the divinity and humanity of Christ and his Birth “under the Law” as an obedient Jew. Only Christ could perfectly fulfill the Law, and he took upon himself the curse of the Law, replacing it with the New Law of grace (cf. Gal 3:10). His sacrifice freed Israel (and Gentiles) from their former bondage to the Old Law that was impossible to keep totally. (CCC 422, 484, 488, 580, 702)

Ch 4:6 Now that the Son has redeemed us, the Spirit can dwell within us, renewing us and leading us to a life of holiness, making us God’s children to share in his divine life.

Abba: This Aramaic word for “father” indicates an intimate relationship with God the Father. By reason of our incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, through Baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God and are able to call upon him as “our Father.” (CCC 683, 693, 742, 1265, 2766)

Ch 4:10 A reference to the Jewish calendar, whose feasts were determined by the seasons. Influenced by the Judaizers, the Galatians had begun to mark some of the Jewish festivals of the Old Testament. (CCC 1164)

Ch 4:12-20 Paul recalled the Galatians’ hospitality and receptivity to his preaching at his first visit and desired them to return to the Faith that they had originally embraced.

Become as I am: Paul urged the Galatians to not live constrained by the Old Law.

Ailment: Paul may have been referring to some form of impaired vision (cf. verse 13).

I am again to travail: A feminine metaphor for the labor of childbirth that Paul used to describe the pain, effort, and hope he had that the Christians there would fully accept the Gospel he had preached to them until they were fully transformed in Christ. The conversion experience and new life of Baptism is often called a “rebirth.” (CCC 526, 562, 793)

Ch 4:21-31 Isaac was Abraham’s son by Sarah, while Ishmael was his son through Hagar, a servant. Paul compared the Jews, who were subject to the Law, to Hagar, whose children, born into slavery, were subject to the Law “according to the flesh”; and the Christian Church to Sarah, who was free according to the Spirit and from whose lineage Christ was born. 

Jerusalem…is our mother: The Church is the Mother of Christian believers because through her we receive the life of faith from God. Mary is venerated as the Mother of the Church and as our Mother because she gave birth to the Savior of the World. (CCC 169, 723, 757, 1972)

Ch 4:24 The allegorical interpretation of Scripture brings out its spiritual meaning, which looks beyond the literal or historical interpretation to determine what the passage signifies. This is the method that reveals typologies, or how persons, objects, or events in the Old Testament prefigure persons, objects, or events in the New Testament, which is precisely what Paul did in this passage. (CCC 115-117)

Ch 4:28-31 Paul cited a traditional interpretation of the dismissal of Hagar by Abraham (cf. Gn 21:1-18) in which Ishmael is said to have been abusive to Isaac. This dismissal signifies the New Covenant replacing the Old as a consequence of Christ’s Suffering and Death on the Cross, instigated in part by leaders of the Old Covenant. 

Ch 5:1-12 For a Gentile convert to undergo circumcision represented a lack of faith in the redemptive power of Christ. Paul had been accused of hypocrisy because he had been preaching there was no need for circumcision at times but advocating circumcision at others. The latter is perhaps a misunderstanding since he asked his companion Timothy to be circumcised solely so that he would have more credibility when preaching to the Jews. In the early church, Jewish converts to Christianity were allowed to keep some Jewish traditions for a while. (CCC 1739-1742, 1748)

Ch 5:1 Yoke of slavery: This refers to the Law of the Old Covenant, which Paul contrasted with the freedom of the New Covenant in Christ. Freedom is perfected when used in harmony with the will of God. (CCC 1731, 1744-1747, 1972)

Ch 5:3 Circumcision joined a person to the Mosaic Law and committed him to obey the Law perfectly, something even the Judaizers were incapable of doing. Christ freed us from slavery to the Law, and those who seek justification under the Law separate themselves from Christ. (CCC 578, 1741)

Ch 5:6 A faith that does not include works of love toward God and neighbor is empty and, therefore, does not lead to salvation and holiness. Faith, in its true sense, always involves the practice of charity in the form of prayer, self-denial, and deeds of mercy and love toward others. Unless faith is expressed in acts of charity, it remains ineffective. (CCC 162, 1814-1815)

Ch 5:9-12 Leaven is the flour that will permeate the dough and cause it all to rise. Giving in to the Judaizers on the issue of circumcision could, little by little, lead to a return to the laws and customs of the Old Covenant and a rejection of the New Law of grace and charity. Paul ironically suggests in frustration, that the Judaizers should castrate themselves. (CCC 2832)

Ch 5:13-26 Christ came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. Under the Old Law, many of the people of Israel viewed the Law as an end in itself. The Law was valid, but it had lost the spirit in which it was intended. The Old Law was a preparation for Christ’s teachings on holiness through a profound love of God and neighbor. Aided with God’s grace, the Commandments give us self-mastery over selfish tendencies and desires so we can be able to give ourselves completely to God and to lay down our lives for others. (CCC 1454, 1740-1742)

Ch 5:16-24 The interior battle of good and evil is essentially a spiritual battle against pride and concupiscence. Concupiscence refers to those disordered desires towards selfish, sensual pleasure resulting from Original Sin. Left unchallenged, we easily slip into sin. Only by habitually seeking to avoid occasions of sin and relying on God’s grace can we grow in holiness. Thus, prayer is vital to this battle. (CCC 1426, 1768-1769, 2744, 2819, 2842)

Ch 5:19-21 Works of the flesh: These include every kind of immorality or injustice that results not only from sins of lust but also from vices of unhealthy attachments to worldly things. Those who fail to repent of such sins deprive themselves of eternal life. (CCC 1470, 1852-1857, 2113)

Ch 5:22 Fruit of the Spirit: The twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit are manifestations of the love of Christ, and through these fruits we reflect the life of Christ. (CCC 735-736, 1108, 1695, 1830-1832, 2345)

Ch 5:24 Crucified the flesh: A similar claim to Paul’s earlier “crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:19) in which the Christian dies to sin, repents and accepts forgiveness, and enters a new life infused by the grace of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 2515-2516, 2543, 2555, 2848)

Ch 6:1-10 Fraternal correction should be done in humility, mercy, and love; examination of conscience is a necessary practice that should precede such correction as a balance against pride to ensure we are not also guilty of the same fault. Everyone will be judged for what he or she has thought, said, and done in life. The time for good works is now, for in doing good and keeping Christ’s New Commandment of Love (“the Law of Christ”) we will gain eternal life. (CCC 1435, 1642, 1829, 1965-1970, 2030)

Ch 6:11-18 In closing, Paul reminded his readers that circumcision, the sign of the Old Covenant, no longer has any value and, thus, should not be a reason to boast. The only thing we can boast about is our redemption through the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Marks of Jesus: Just as slaves were branded by their owners, Paul considers the scars of the persecutions he had endured for the Faith to be his brand as a slave of Christ. 

Ch 6:15 A new creation: At Baptism, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly and gives us a share in the life of the Trinity through a new life in Christ. At the end of time, all of creation will also be renewed. (CCC 1214, 1265)

Proverbs 29:16 To serve the common good properly, those in authority have a special obligation to lead exemplary lives. Effectiveness and credibility in governing are intimately linked to a ruler’s good example. In addition, citizens will be inclined to follow the bad example of their rulers. (CCC 1917, 2286)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you for this day. We thank you for the gift of all that St. Paul went through; his imprisonment and persecution, his afflictions, not only his afflictions and doing this out of love for you and in service to the Gospels, so that we can have him as an example. But also Father, thank you for giving him a spirit of joy in the midst of all this, joy in the midst of affliction. We ask you to please give us joy in the midst of affliction. Abba! Father! Dad in Heaven! Give us joy in the midst of affliction. In the midst of persecution, help us to trust in you more than anything else. When we cannot trust in ourselves, or even in the people who love us and claim to love us, help us to always trust in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”