“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” (Galatians 5:23-24a)

I can feel it rising. Like the thermometer in my backyard, during these dog days of summer, I can almost see it rise. And it is rising from our less than better places. Our corporate anxiety is rising and is playing itself out in contentious ways across our nation. The political rhetoric continues to be marked by ire and fury. School Board meetings have become battlegrounds. And we may even feel strife in our parishes.

What are we to do? What can we do? It can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin.

But perhaps we begin by accepting that there are some things we can’t change. I can’t change what others say, or do, or think. But the one thing I can change is how I respond. I can change what I say and do. I can change how I think. I can change my response to the rising anxiety.

A few weeks back, I wrote about the importance of values, and as I have reflected on the importance of values, I have thought about some of the sacred values we find in Scripture.

Like the value of love that Jesus shares in the Great Commandment. “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34-39).

Or how about the values that St. Paul shares in Galatians 5, which he calls the “fruit of the Spirit”. “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…

As we follow Jesus, how might we intentionally live the call of Jesus to love God and neighbor? And is there a particular fruit of the Spirit that you feel called to put into practice? Maybe patience? Or kindness? Or how about self-control?

I’m going to work a bit harder this week to love others and to seek moments of joy. Maybe you’d like to walk with me. I’d love to hear about the path God is leading you to pursue.