Editor’s note: We are sharing this post today, as the Fruits of the Spirit were the subject of today’s first reading.
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given unto our mission to the ends of the earth. Among His gifts are the fruits of the Spirit which deserve our attention today.
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Catechism and Tradition are drawn largely from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians where he writes,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (Gal 5:22-26).
We can now look at each fruit and ponder its meaning, both ancient and new. Many of these insights are drawn from William Barclay, but some come from Strong’s Concordance.
I. Love – ἀγάπη (agape) – This is a God-like love, unconditional and vigorous, one that does not count the cost, one that is not based on mere reciprocity. It is wanting only what is good for the other. This sort of love is distinct from other forms of love in Greek such as eros (passionate love), philia (warm love most among close friends, brotherly love), and storge (love of affection usually for family members). Agape love is far above these and is, of necessity, a work of God so as to come to its fullest expression. Hence, it is rightly called a fruit of the Holy Spirit. While some scholars argue that agape is a word that pagan Greeks knew little of, that is precisely the point. The Christians of the first century took this little-used word and sanctified it with special meaning that we have associated with it ever since.
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