June 2000

Commetary on the Word of Life:

"Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God"
(Rm. 8:14).

This passage is at the heart of the hymn Paul sings to the beauty of Christian life, to its newness and freedom. These are the result of baptism and faith in Jesus, which graft us fully to him, and through him, to the dynamics of Trinitarian life. By becoming one person with Christ, we share in his Spirit and in all his fruits, the first of which is becoming children of God.

Even though Paul speaks of “adoption” (cf. Rm. 8:15; Gal. 4:5), he does so only to distinguish it from the status of natural son, which applies solely to the only Son of God.

Ours is not a purely juridical relationship with the Father, however, as it would be as adopted children, but something substantial that changes our very nature, like a new birth. This is so because our entire life is animated by a new principle, by a new spirit, the very Spirit of God.

And we should never stop rejoicing, with Paul, for the miracle of death and resurrection that the grace of baptism brings about in us.

These words speak to our Christian life, into which the Spirit of Jesus introduces a dynamic tension that Paul summarizes as the contrast between flesh and spirit. By the word flesh, he means the whole person (body and soul), with all our inherent fragility and selfishness. These are constantly opposed to the law of love, and indeed, to Love itself, which was poured into our hearts (cf. Rm. 5:5).
In fact, those who are led by the Spirit must face the “good fight of the faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) in order to curb all the inclinations to evil and to live in accordance with the faith professed in baptism.
But how?
We know that for the Holy Spirit to act we need to do our part. In writing these words, St. Paul had in mind, above all, a certain duty that we have as Christians, that of denying ourselves, winning the battle against selfishness in its many and varied forms.
It is this dying to ourselves that produces life, so that every self-denial, every renunciation, every “no” to our selfishness is the source of new light, peace, joy, love and inner freedom. It is an open door to the Spirit.
Giving more freedom to the Holy Spirit, present in our hearts, will enable him to bestow upon us a greater abundance of his gifts and lead us along the journey of life.

"Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God."

How can we live these words?

Above all we have to become increasingly aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. There is an immense treasure in the depths of our being, but we are not as conscious of it as we could be. We possess an extraordinary wealth, but for the most part, it lies unused.

In order to hear and follow his voice within us more readily, we have to say no to everything that is against the will of God and yes to everything that is his will: no to temptation, with a clear-cut refusal of its suggestions; yes to the tasks that God has entrusted to us; yes to loving every neighbour we meet; yes to the trials and difficulties we encounter …

If we do this, the Holy Spirit will guide us, giving our Christian life that vigour, that savour, that zest and that brightness that naturally follow when it is authentic.

People around us will realize we are not only children of our own natural family, but sons and daughters of God.

Chiara Lubich

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