“Decide this day whom you will serve” (Jos.24:15)
We live in this world, but we are not of this world, says our Master, Jesus Christ. That is, if we are truly His followers. Our Lord prayed to the Father:
“I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou take them out of the world, but that thou keep them from evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth” (Jn.17:14-17).
Because we are born again of water and the Spirit – the Holy Spirit of God, we are of a different generation. That is, we are not of the worldly generation. The worldly man, or natural man, is a victim of his genes, his personal and family history, and his environment. But by grace man transcends nature and becomes a new creature, begotten of God, not of man. With Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we are members of a Holy Family, the Church. And our Brother, Jesus Christ, is bigger and stronger than any power on earth.
The ‘old man’ still tries to enslave us, but he is a liar. He tries to convince us that we are incapable of rising above what nature has given us. From Holocaust survivors to those who suffered abuse as children, the business of life becomes that of making their tormentors pay for their crimes. Criminals should be justly punished, but a million dollar settlement or the thought of your enemies’ execution does not bring peace or happiness. Forgiveness does. But to the natural man, justice in this world is all there is. Not so with those who have the mind of Christ. St. Paul says:
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is from God, that we may know the things that have been given by God. These things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in the learning of the Spirit, combining spiritual with spiritual. But the sensual man does not perceive the things that are of the Spirit of God, for it is foolishness to him and he cannot understand, because it is examined spiritually. But the spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged by no man. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord, that he might instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor.2:13-16).
The world has no understanding of spiritual things. For instance, to many who call themselves Christian, Catholics included, the Blessed Virgin Mary is thought of as just an ordinary young girl from Nazareth whom God chose to be the mother of Jesus Christ. And after His birth she remained just an ordinary woman in their eyes. She went on living an ordinary life with St. Joseph, with whom she had an ordinary family in the ordinary way. But Mary had only one Child – Jesus Christ. The Gospels themselves support this. Our Holy Religion tells us that Mary was chosen by God from the beginning to be the Mother of His Divine Son. She was without sin from the moment of her Immaculate Conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. She was Mary ever-Virgin, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, God’s marvelous creation of grace and holiness.
Mary was no ordinary woman. And we are not ordinary people, because we have been chosen by God through Baptism to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may proclaim the perfections of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Pet.2:9).
God may have gifted you with intelligence or beauty, but far more wonderful are the spiritual gifts. You can live on a higher plane and walk in the spirit, pleasing God and following the high road to Heaven. You can be a saint or a martyr. Even the smallest of saints is worlds above the greatest of earthly heroes.
This can’t be done, however, if you remain a part of this lost generation, immersed in its scandals, its fashions, its thinking, and living like the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Even if you have a career in this world, being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and living as His disciple, must hold first place in your life.
The spiritual man knows that TV is a dangerous minefield for the Christian, and the Internet is the devil’s playground. How can one watch movies or seek entertainment produced by the enemies of God with the destruction of the Church and Christian morality in mind? It doesn’t make sense. But like mindless zombies we sit in front of the TV or the Internet while our souls are being destroyed.
We must be aware of who we are. Although grateful for the natural gifts we have received, we must stop defining ourselves in our own minds only by what nature has given us, and begin to see ourselves as sons and daughters of God, a new creation. If our image of ourselves is that of the natural man, the unregenerate man, we will go on behaving as natural men. But we have a new identity. If we see ourselves as children of God we will grow in wisdom and grace, as Jesus did, taught by our spiritual Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph.
St. Paul must have written these words for us:
“This, therefore, I say and testify in the Lord, that henceforward you are not to walk as the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind, having their understanding clouded in darkness, estranged from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart. For they have given themselves up in despair to sensuality, greedily practicing every kind of uncleanness. But you have not so learned Christ – for surely you have heard of him and have been taught in him (as truth is in Jesus) that as regards your former manner of life you are to put off the old man, which is being corrupted through its deceptive lusts. But be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which has been created according to God in justice and holiness of truth” (Eph.4:17-24).