If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Living in the Spirit signifies living of the life of grace which Christ Our Lord has merited for us and which we receive through the Church and the Sacraments. Walking in the Spirit signifies living up to and putting into practice the far-reaching demands of that new life. It is a recurring theme in the apostolic letters of all the apostles. They had received the mandate to preach the Gospel to all nations, to baptise them, and lead them to the newness of life in Christ. But they were very quickly confronted with a sad reality: being baptised, having received the Holy Spirit, does not dispense from the spiritual combat. Rather, it imposes a higher form of life, an existence in which the flesh is restored to its primitive state, in entire submission to the Spirit. If this new life is made possible through grace, it does not dispense from personal effort, and many fall back to their former pagan way of life.
Today’s Gospel on the resurrection of the son of the widow of Naim illustrates symbolically the sad state of a soul, which had been reborn in the Spirit through Baptism, but had fallen back into sin, and was being carried away to eternal death by impetuous passions, while Holy Mother Church stood by and wept, powerless to aid a soul that had insisted upon returning to its vomit, to employ an expression of St Peter. But the Lord Jesus steps in, and restores the life of the Spirit through the sacrament of penance. The dead man rises, the sinner is absolved, he can now go forward in rediscovered newness of life: he has taken advantage of what the Fathers of the Church call the “second plank of salvation”, the sacrament of confession.
The great lesson for us today, the great mystery which should make us marvel unceasingly, is the condescension of God who comes to lift up the sinner and give him a new chance. But also the great dignity of the faithful soul, graced with the very life of God, the life of the Holy Spirit, which makes us a new creature in Christ, and empowers us to live in a way that stuns the world.
At the end of today’s epistle, St Paul adds: “in doing good, let us not fail; for in due time we shall reap, not failing. Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good to all men”. Whilst we have the time. Today we have the time, God has given us another day to do good, to live up to the demands of our holy baptism, and live our faith in a pagan world in need of conversion. Let us not miss this opportunity, perhaps our last, for we do not know if we will have a tomorrow. God is not mocked. Let us be instruments in the hands of the Spirit, who gives us a share in the Divine Life, and through us, wishes to raise other souls from the dead. Through us, he wishes to bring to the ears of many those inspired words: Awake, thou that sleepest (in sin), and arise from the dead, and Christ will give thee light.