Friday, January 8, 2016

New Spirituality

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
January 10, 2016

Luke 3:15-16,21-22

"Spirituality" is an unfortunate word. For many, it may only mean something useless, removed from real life. What is it good for? What matters is what's concrete and practical -- what's material, not spiritual.

However, the "spirit" of a person is something valued in modern society, as it indicates what's deepest and most decisive in their life -- the passion that animates her, his ultimate inspiration, what she spreads to others, what that person is putting into the world.

The spirit livens our projects and commitments; it shapes our horizon of values and our hope. As our spirit is, so will our spirituality be. And so too will be our religion and our whole life.

The texts the early Christians left us show us that they experienced their faith in Jesus Christ as a powerful "spiritual movement." They felt inhabited by the Spirit of Jesus. Only those who have been baptized with that Spirit are Christian. "Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." Animated by this Spirit, they experience everything in a new way.

The first thing that changes radically is their experience of God. They no longer live with "the spirit of slaves,"burdened by the fear of God, but with the "spirit of sons and daughters" who feel loved unconditionally and without limits by a Father. The Spirit of Jesus makes them cry from the depths of their hearts, "Abba, Father!" That experience is the first thing everyone should find in the communities of Jesus.

Their way of living their religion also changes. They no longer feel like "prisoners of the law," the norms and precepts, but liberated by love. Now they know what it is to live with "a new spirit," listening to the call of love and not "the old song," busy fulfilling religious obligations. This is the atmosphere we must all care for and promote in the Christian communities, if we want to live like Jesus.

They also discover the true content of the worship of God. What pleases the Father aren't rituals devoid of love, but that we live "in spirit and in truth." That life lived with the spirit of Jesus and the truth of his gospel is, for Christians, their authentic "spiritual worship."

We must not forget that Paul of Tarsus used to say to his communities, "Do not quench the Spirit." A dull church, empty of the spirit of Christ, can't live or communicate his real Newness. It can't taste or spread his Good News. Caring for Christian spirituality is reviving our religion.

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