For the past few days, during Mass we have been reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Yesterday’s passage touched me deeply, because it spoke directly to a challenge of our day. Please take a moment to read this passage from St. Paul:
The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Among men, who knows what pertains to the man except his spirit that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.
Now the natural man does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The one who is spiritual, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone.
For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)
At the heart of this passage, St. Paul is speaking of the need for discernment; the ability to look beyond the natural or worldly realities of any given moment to the deeper workings of the Holy Spirit. Recently, we learned that this is exactly the need Pope Francis says needs attention in our seminary formation programs. We need priests who are better capable of discernment; capable of accompanying people in the reality of their lived experience, to better understand where and how God is leading them.
I would suggest that all of God’s people can benefit from growing in our ability to live according to the Spirit we have received from God, precisely because the world today desires to live more and more simply by ‘human wisdom,’ rather than by the Spirit of God.
We have a great need today to place all things in God’s hands – to invoke the name of Jesus and the presence of Jesus over all of our plans; each meeting and personal encounters of every day. There is a ‘worldliness’ that initially seeks to impose itself over everything – yet there is a deeper desire to rise above this worldliness to a higher calling – the plan of God. This is what we are to regularly seek – God’s plan.
At the end of the day, the weariness which we associate with the day’s work is to a degree associated with this constant tension of being in the world, but not of the world – of dealing with worldly realities and powers who do not (necessarily) believe in the reality of God or of spiritual things. This is what St. Paul means when he says “the natural man does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually.” But as Christians, we do believe that God and the Spirit are at work in every moment of every day. We believe that “we have the mind of Christ” and therefore are capable of living as citizens of heaven while still being inhabitants of the earth.
This is why our duty is to proclaim and build the Kingdom of God here and now. Living as children of God does not make us better than anyone else, but it is what gives us the capacity to make the world a better place. Keep living the faith!