How do you know you are following the Spirit? We have mentioned a reason for following religious rules can be to avoid the real conversion that is necessary to follow Jesus. But how do we know when we are actually following the Spirit?
Fortunately Paul gives us the answer in today’s first reading. When we follow the Spirit, the qualities of the Spirit begin to “rub off.” Paul lists them. Following the Spirit should produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
We have discussed how being overly concerned about the rules alone can be a way of avoiding the call of God to change our hearts. Notice the fruits of the Spirit are internal. They are deep.
When we notice these fruits of the Spirit in our own lives, we have the type of joy that lasts. It is not simply a quick and passing satisfaction, but is rather something that lasts. Following the rules only produces the momentary satisfaction which quickly fades.
So we are really discussing whether we have the ability to do the hard work or whether you need the easy path. The spiritual life is not the only place where we need to make such a choice. We make these choices in relatioships. We can look for the friend we use, or the person that is only engaged fin a “one night stand”. We can “settle” in our lives, not seeking out ways to accept challenges that lead to growth.
In a way this is another version of the Book of Deuteronomy where Moses asks about choosing death or life. So, choose life.