Gift of the Spirit

AT ONE TIME YOU WERE DARKNESS, NOW YOU ARE LIGHT IN THE LORD; LIVE AS CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT (Eph 5: 8). St. Paul was convinced by his encounter with the glorified Lord Jesus that in accepting him in faith and in receiving baptism he was reborn. He understood with an unshakeable conviction that what he had earlier believed to be the truth revealed by God was in fact a tragic misinterpretation. Adhering to it and acting upon those convictions was to walk according to the flesh, and made him a son of darkness. Now that he had willingly opened his eyes to the light of the resurrection shining on the face of Christ and followed it where it led him, he had become a child of the light, and so considered it not an exaggeration to speak of himself as light. When he wrote to the Church in Ephesus he assured its members that the same is true of them. In proclaiming this message to us here this morning, the Church, guided by the same Spirit who inspired Paul, gives us that same assurance. It is we here who are addressed today as "light in the Lord" and exhorted to "live as children of the light."

Paul, anticipated that questions would arise as to just what kind of behavior should characterize the lives of those who strive to live in keeping with this high call. He was well aware that there must be no doubt in such a pivotal matter as to what is required, and that there were, as he puts it, "sons of unbelief", giving out false moral teaching. "Let no one deceive you with empty words" he warns, "do not become partakers with them." Any one guilty of such things as sexual impurity in all its forms, greed, and graspingness is excluded from the kingdom of Christ and of God. In de scribing what behavior is worthy of children of the light, he mentions first the general disposition that is to characterize all our dealings with one another: "Be kind to one another and compassion ate, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you." Nothing that offends against chas tity or justice should even be named among us, nor any coarse or joking speech; on the positive side our talk should reflect our gratitude to God for our life in Christ, and to the brotherhood for all the graces received through association with those whom God has made " partakers with the saints in light."

In reflecting on these words of the apostle today, we are reminded that, though the Eucha rist is the chief way by which we express our gratitude to God, it is not the only one. It is also by our way of treating one another, St. Paul teaches, that we can show our thankfulness to God and to our neighbor. Our respectful speech, our considerate demeanor, our ready collaboration and our kindly and merciful disposition to one another are so many expressions that we are grateful for the gift of being children of the light. By cultivating these manners of speech and behavior we give glory to God and assistance to one another as we advance on our way to the kingdom of God and of Christ. May the Lord grant, through the grace received here at the Eucharist and through the words of today's readings, that we always prove worthy witnesses to the gift of light and divine life conferred on us by the Spirit of Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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