Grace to you!
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, one of the most prominent Catholic media evangelists in America for close to three decades (between 1950 and1970), visited the prisons. All eyes were on him, waiting to hear his word. He gazed intently at the enthusiastic prisoners, his piercing eyes revealing the deep empathy within.
“What you do I did,” echoed his voice after a prolonged silence. “The difference is that you were caught and I wasn't.”
Archbishop Sheen wasn’t saying he committed exactly the crimes for which many of the inmates were in prison. Rather, he is pointing to the biblical truth that he is a sinner also. “All have sinned” (Rom 3:23) and all are tempted too.
Saint Paul shares one of the most honest truths about his personal life and the call to holiness. It is the interior struggles that go on in our lives as we try to live virtuously. He writes, “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (Rom 7:19).
I don't know about you, but in my life too, I witness this interior struggle. For example, between forgiving and loving someone who, in my opinion is willfully mean towards me versus getting even; between self control over gossip or listening to gossip or shutting my ears completely off from all sorts of unkind words towards another; between maintaining custody over my eyes or trying to take a look at a television program that isn't in good taste; between doing good for someone else or simply being indifferent, etc.
We realize that our weak flesh, as Saint Paul calls it; the concupiscence, as we call it in our Catholic theology, remains in us even after baptism. This makes us desire sinful pleasures, gluttony, greed, pride, wrath (unholy anger or rage), envy, lust and sloth. How about vainglory, which creeps in from time to time? For instance, when we look in the mirror and have an eerie sad feeling because our skin is losing its youth, tender and smooth feel. Truth is, temptations to vice are all around us and they tend to be loud, louder than the voice of reason.
If we didn’t have God's grace, the flesh would always have its way. The grace of God in Christ equips us not only to desire and practice virtue, but also to fight like valiant solders to overcome the desires of the flesh.
This is why I often encourage my fellow Catholics to go to Confession because we receive necessary graces to fight on. In addition, Confession holds accountable those aspects of our life that are so intimate we often don’t want to share, but we do so freely during Confession.
Sometimes, people feel like throwing in the towel because, from time to time, they simply don't live up to their holy desires or goals. Today's message from Saint Paul encourages us to keep fighting. By the grace of God, you will be victorious in the end.
Thanks be to God who has given us victory through Christ.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday Week 29 A: Rom 7:18-25a; Lk 12:54-59]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.