Friday, October 23, 2009

The Struggle between Social Mores and Church Teachings

The words and thoughts of St. Paul in today's readings, Romans 7:18-25a, are truly remarkable: a personal reflection that is worth serious reflection of us in today's world. Read them three or four times, slowly, reflectively.

Paul reveals himself as a genuine human being with what he speaks of as the sins in his flesh. In just two or three sentences he speaks of his struggle against natural instincts in his body that can range from laziness to serious immorality. Here he is not so clear, no specifics to his confession.

So well does he relate his inner struggle between good and evil. Yet he does not succumb to a temptation to give up. "Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ." That is the answer.

At the same time, however, his struggle will not be ended immediately. Sin will continue to be a painful part of his life. Give up the struggle? That was not in his nature.

When will natural instincts that draw us to sin, that create an inner struggle in our lives, when will they subside? When will we no longer be struggling? When I was a Jesuit novice, a retreat master told us during a retreat prior to being invested in a Jesuit religious garb (habit), "Will those temptations of the flesh disappear? Yes. However it will not happen until your are six months in the grave!"

So we have a life-long struggle ... thanks to the Adam-Eve gift of Original Sin! However, like Paul, we have to see in Jesus Christ the energy and abundance of God's lover for us, his forgiveness of our sins.