“Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise.” (Eph. 5:15)
School is starting. College students will soon be going off on their own, and they will need to watch carefully how they live, by making good choices. As the year gets busy with all kinds of sports and extracurricular activities, it is easy for families to get immersed in the activity without keeping priorities. Soon the family suffers and their spiritual life weakens.
“Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16). How can we watch carefully? St. Paul urges us to “watch carefully . . . because the days are evil.”
First, realize that there is a larger battle in life, between the Evil One and God.
Every day I am dealing with forces larger than my heart and will. Every day I am dealing with more than the other person who does wrong to me. The battle to be a good person is not just between me and other people. It involves larger spiritual forces. This is essential to remember in little daily decisions, as well as when we face epic spiritual battles, like clergy sexual abuse. If we forget this dimension of life, then we are susceptible to tragic sin.
As Jesus began his public ministry, he began with confronting the devil. The temptations in the desert set the context for the larger battle. He does not do battle only with the Jewish leaders, or Judas who betrays, or the Romans who crucify him. His main battle was with the Evil One.
After the temptations in the desert, Luke says,“Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment.” (Lk. 4:13)
The larger battle in life is between the Evil One and God. We have to keep that in mind in our daily journey. We must remember this as a Church. “Watch carefully how you live . . . because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16). Or as St. Paul says in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” Parents, are raising your children as spiritual beings?
Attend to the ‘spiritual.’ People are good at exercising their bodies. This generation works at physical fitness, but often ignores spiritual fitness. Do you have a spiritual fitness plan for your life?
Start by realizing that there is a larger battle in life, between the Evil One and God. Next, remember that we need God’s help for this battle. So we need to pray daily. And the center of prayer is to do God’s will. Paul says, “Do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of God.” (Eph. 5:17).
The best way to know God’s will is to say every day, “What do you want, Lord?”
- What do you want as I start a new day in high school or college?
- What do you want for my family, as I seek to be a good parent?
- What do you want in this relationship?
If I am going to know the Lord’s will, then I have to know the LORD. Reading the Bible is the best way to know God. Every day take a few minutes with the Gospel so that you know how Jesus speaks and acts. When you come to Mass, ask God to give you a word that strikes your heart.
Sometimes sports on the weekends leads a family to missing Sunday Mass. Then sports become idols. Then two commandments are broken: Not keeping God above other gods. Not keeping the Lord’s Day.
We let that happen … because we do not realize that we are spiritual beings … because we fail to understand that the larger battle is between the Evil One and God … because we do not realize that we need God’s help.
Jesus gives us his own strength as he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:56). Another translation says, “lives in me and I live in him.” The word translated as remains or lives is literally to dwell, like dwelling in a house. This is the goal of spiritual beings who are on a human journey.” We are created to dwell in God.
“Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. . . . be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:15-16, 18).