Gal 5:18-25

 

It can be easy to think that someone constantly talking about desiring to be holy and wanting to have spiritual experiences and who is always in the chapel praying in what is seemingly some sort of ecstatic posture is truly on the path to holiness. This is not the case for St Teresa of Avila, whose feast day we celebrate today! She is interested in the fruits of a person’s life and not just their desires and what it looks as though they are doing. It was not beyond her to send someone fitting the description above off to the kitchen to peel a sack (50kg) of potatoes and to tell her to stop that sort of prayer for the time being! Why? Often such desires are totally unrealistic and are merely pious dreams. True holiness will come only when the concrete realities of discipleship are lived according to the grace of the Holy Spirit. This is why Paul tells the Galatians that they must live according to the Spirit and not just so-called, holy desires.

 

The litmus test of holiness is not the desires of an individual but the fruit of his or her life. Thus Teresa will instruct an overly pious novice to go to the kitchen and do something that will beneficial to herself and others rather than just sit and daydream in the chapel! Even if our desires are good and holy they will not benefit us unless we are willing to work to attain them. The only way to do this is through the daily grind of a life of discipleship. Teresa knows this from experience and is not shy about applying the principle in its most basic form.

 

St Paul challenges the Galatians to compare the end results or fruits of holiness and sin. They are poles apart and easily distinguishable. Therefore it should not be difficult for them to discern the sorts of actions that will give rise to such fruits and to cultivate holiness and shun all that leads to sin. The same should be true for us. As we reflect upon the Scriptures and the lives of the saints we should be able to see what sort of actions are going to aid our growth in faith and love and those that will not!

 

How disciplined am I in doing the basics things of my faith well? Am I committed to daily prayer? Do I read the bible? Am I growing in my knowledge of the faith?

 

Holy Spirit, help me to be a doer and not just a dreamer! Let me put my faith into practice daily so that I will truly witness to the truth that I am indeed a disciple of Jesus Christ.