you will be saved.
I have never figured out what people mean by the words spiritual and spirituality, and I rarely use them. I understand that Franciscan spirituality is different from Carmelite or Benedictine or Jesuit. I can see that Roman Catholic spirituality is different from Lutheran and Methodist spiritualities. But once you get beyond religious communities who express their spirit with rituals, doctrines and works of charity, I don’t know what the words mean.
It’s ironic that Saint Paul would redefine the word spirit in his Epistle to the Romans, as he struggled to express clearly what it means to belong to Jesus Christ, and many of today’s spiritualities intentionally ignore Jesus Christ. If I were in control I’d tell them to find another word to mean something which transcends but is not connected to the human body or a recognizable community. In today’s usage, so far as I can tell, spirituality often means irreligious, which I think is oxymoronic. But (fortunately) I am not in control.
In today’s reading from the Epistle to the Romans,
expresses what he means by The Spirit. It refers
to that ancient, human problem of words. What does a word mean if its speaker
is lying? Saint
assures his disciples they are saved because they confess with their lips “ Saint Paul Jesus
is Lord,” and believe the same in their hearts. There is no difference between
what they say and what they mean. In effect he says, “Because your word and your
spirit and your flesh are all in perfect agreement, you have nothing to fear.”
That is the meaning of Baptism and Eucharist and Confirmation, the sacraments by which a non-believer becomes a believing member of the Church. All the other sacraments are built on that foundation.
For that matter, our entire civilization is built on that firm foundation. When a contractor signs an agreement to build a bridge according to the exact specifications of a dependable bridge, he pours his word into the very cement of that structure. Several months later, when the mayor and governor come together to cut the ribbon for that bridge, the whole world knows we can drive on that bridge without fear. Its foundation is not simply the base rock in the earth below that river; it is also the Truth to which the contractor has sworn his name.
But if he took liberties with the materials and workmanship of that bridge, if he “tried to follow the spirit of the contract but not the exact wording” then we have something less dependable. If the bridge fails we’ll probably find that contractor missing; his corporation went bankrupt and he is now working under another pseudonym.
In our Christian tradition we use the word incarnation to indicate God’s commitment to human life. God has sworn, his word has become flesh, and he will not relent.