Daily Reflection
October 24th, 2003
Howie Kalb
Jesuit Community
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Feast of St. Anthony Claret, Bishop
Romans 7:18-25
Psalm 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94
Luke 12:54-59

The message Paul describes in this brief reading from his letter to the Romans has puzzled me for most of my life.   How come when I know what is right and resolve to do what is good, I find myself again and again doing just the opposite?  After all it is a pretty universal tendency.  So I know that I am not the only one looking for the answer to this phenomenon.

Paul also struggled to know what caused this behavior.  He speaks of the flesh at war with the spirit.  It’s as though there were two different natures fighting each other in one and the same person.  “Miserable one that I am!”

Is it just concupiscence?  Is it an unconscious and innate desire naturally favoring the easier, more selfish, more pleasurable, more apathetic, more exciting, and/or more risky course of action.   Whatever our unique struggle might involve, we can oftentimes become discouraged and give up hope of ever controlling these inordinate desires.

In the Gospel, Jesus is reminding his listeners that they are good at predicting the weather from present “appearances of the earth and the skies.”  Since this is so, Jesus warns us that it would be hypocritical refusing to foresee and not to predict the results of our cowardly conduct.  And the hypocrisy becomes critical when our conscience refuses to control these divisive tendencies. 

When the struggle involves our concupiscence regarding anger, greed, sloth, lust, gluttony, or other moral failings, we can expect the fight to involve victories and defeats.  But there’s final hope of victory each time our resistance overcomes the evil tendencies.  Obviously it makes us better prepared and a bit stronger for the next encounter.

We have no control over the signs predicting tomorrow’s weather.  But we can in advance somewhat protect ourselves from the consequences.  In regard to our behavioral tendencies, we can not only shield ourselves from their consequences, but cooperating with God’s grace we can even manage to control the destructive signs.  With Paul we may ask: “Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”


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