Reflection on the Daily Readings for 10/23/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 477. Friday of 29th week. Romans 7:18-25. Psalm
119:188.8.131.52.93.94. Luke 12:54-59:
Our readings today are very strong. They make us wince in our own struggles
which are described by St. Paul in his personal reflection on himself. We
are entering into the saint’s own conscience and feel his anxiety about
what he is going through. Often he knows what is right but struggles with
doing it. He probably realizes his mistakes of the past as a zealous
persecutor of innocent Jewish Christians. His conversion does not stop
these inner struggles of life within him and he shares this spiritual
combat with us. He is miserable about the tuggings that pull him in a
direction in which he does not want to go and his fiery temperament remains
with him. Conversion does not change our passions, our temptations, nor our
inner turmoil. He will however reach a conclusion in the next chapter that
will help him and us as we, too, acknowledge what is selfish within us and
when we boast of our gifts which have been given to us by God but we think
we are the ones who have developed them and therefore we have a right to be
pleased with ourselves. Not so according to Paul and Jesus!
Paul expresses his struggle in a powerful manner and yet continues to pray
through it: “Who can deliver me from this body under the power of death.
All praise to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:35).
We are helped by the Psalm Response and the verses chosen from the longest
psalm in the Psalter, Psalm 119. Within this psalm is everything that Paul
as a Pharisee cherished and lived out. We are called to do the same by
seeing it as a prayer that helps us to be docile to the teachings of God
through Jesus: “Teach me your laws, O Lord. Teach me wisdom and knowledge
for in your commands I trust.” Perhaps, Paul meditated often on this Psalm
and it helped him share his inmost thoughts with us in what he writes in
chapter seven of his Epistle to the Romans.
Jesus tells us to do more than just read the signs of nature that help us
predict the weather. We are to read the “signs of the times” in the light
of God’s revelatory word where we learn the laws of love and forgiveness.
We will then be able to confront the evil impulses and desires that
sometime well-up within us. Amen.