Renovamini spiritu mentis vestrae! Be renewed in the spirit of your mind!
How pertinent is this piece of advice that Saint Paul gives us today! We need to be renewed and to be renewed every day! Why? Because if we do not put on the new man, the old man comes back with his cortege of old and bad habits, of dark thoughts and of wrong feelings, which all have repercussions on a moral level. Thus, it can affect our salvation. Our nature has been deeply marked by original sin and our psychology turned upside down. Our feelings can be wrong and can keep us in a state of illusion. In addition of this, if you consider the concupiscence that affect all of us and that is manifested by the deadly sins - lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride - the danger of losing your soul is great. Save us, Lord, we are perishing!
But in order to be saved, you have to be touched by Christ and to be transformed by Him. Begging Him is not enough. You have to put on the new man. And it is necessary to put away certain things for that, such as lying. Put away lying and speak truth each one with his neighbor.
Speak truth! You have to be true in order to speak truth. It is the mark of a great soul, of loyalty and honesty. I should not have to preach on this among Christians. Saint Paul should not had to preach neither on this subject. Nonetheless, he did it. He might had some good reasons. And I can clearly see what would they be. There were certainly some people within the community of Ephesus who did not speak the truth. Saint John Chrysostom says that there were falsehood, artifice and guile among them. On a natural level, it is something already ugly, but for the disciples of Christ, it is a shame and a scandal, which means something that occasions others’ spiritual ruin. This is the work of the old man. By acting in such a way, you participate in the Adamic being by letting your corrupted nature overcome you. It is what you do each time you complain about your brother and speak behind his back. You commit a sin and push others to sin. While if you would speak the truth you would have the courage to speak to him with charity if he truly does something reprehensible. But cowardice is often more easy than courage, which is necessary in order to speak the truth.
Now let us go further in our reflection. Why should we speak the truth? Saint Paul says because we are members of one another. Whether you like it or not, it is a fact. We are members of one another. If someone tries to deceive you, Saint John Chrysostom says again, then he would be no longer one of your members. Let us understand the implications of this. If you are a member of the Body of Christ, someone who would try to deceive you would be separated from this Body. In another words, it would be a kind of meddling excommunication.
Mouth is at the origin of all evil, Saint John Chrysostom says. This is why God says in Psalm 11: The Lord will destroy all deceitful lip and the tongue that speaks proud things. Therefore Saint John Chrysostom urges us to speak only things that can edify our neighbor and not scandalize him. If God has given to you a mouth and a tongue, it is for glorify Him and edifying your neighbor. Therefore, if the only thing you can do is ruining him, you would better be quiet and never talk. If your brother has committed adultery, do not reveal his fault. Do not neither speak to him with smugness. It would not help him but rather harm him by awaking his resentment. But you would help him a lot if you explain him how to act, if you teach him how to keep his mouth and how to never gossip. If you speak to him about compunction, piety, alms, all these thing are good to soften his soul.
How beautiful it is! How rejoicing it would be if all the members of a same community would act in such a way, with a great dignity of heart, as it would fit to Christians! But alas, there are some people who have not yet put on the new man. We do not denounce them, but we invite them and beg them to enter into themselves and to scrutinize their consciences, to go deep in order to find out and clear up its darkest hidden corners. There are some people who, in spite of years of religious practice, have not yet put on the new man. They are deceitful and object of scandal. They do not consider their brothers as brothers but rather as rivals. And when they have friends, it happens that they are more accomplices rather than true brothers.
We urge them with Saint Paul to be renewed in the spirit of their mind. The spirit of the mind is the internal center, the true and essential core of a person. So, we have to be entirely renewed by the truth, by being in Jesus and Jesus in us, by the obedient exercise of the will to the will of God.
A commentator says that positively then one not only puts off the former evil way of life, and cuts all connections with it, but one puts on the new humanity. This, in one sense is Christ, for one was in Adam, the old man. At the same time one’s participation in Adam had a personal side to it; so too in Christ, and thus one is being renewed as Col. 3:10 puts it so powerfully. The full renewed man that will be, is now being fulfilled, and the original created image - so defaced by sin - is being brought to full, re-creational glory!
Dear brethren, being renewed in the spirit of our minds and putting on the new man is something positive. It is a participation to the Divine nature and the practical acceptance of the work of Redemption in our lives. As such, it is a source of joy and of peace. It is truly being another Christ. And it is necessary in order to take place at the wedding feast. The Father looks at each guest, but only those that He recognizes for being at the image of the Son can be seated near Him.
Dear brethren, let each one look at himself in the mirror of his soul. Don’t look at your neighbor but at yourself. What do you see? Do you recognize in yourself the image of Adam or the image of Christ? You will face soon your Creator and his judgment will be infallible. May He see on this day another Christ in you.
This is what we can ask to Our Lady, so that she can help us to put on the new man, the true image of God that we like to see in the Saints: some true Christians full of joy and tireless heroes of the Gospel. For the others, the deceivers, killjoy people full of bitterness, of critics and of complains, we truly and sincerely pray for them. May God have mercy on them!