Scripture: Lectionary 477: Oct 25. Romans 7:18-25. Psalm 119:188.8.131.52.93.94. Luke 12:54-59.
In his Confessions, St. Augustine, looks and reflects upon his inner life and describes his struggles in ways that move us. St. Paul is the first to do so in the Scriptures and he does a thorough examination of conscience as well as a confession of his failings and sins. We learn much about ourselves and temptation in reading this passage and all of chapter 7. We will find a “way out” of its heavy and fearsome message in chapter 8, but it does us well, to keep chapter seven in front of us this day and to meditate on it in the context of the whole chapter. The liturgy just avails us of partial portions of the word of God each day; it is up to us to read and pray more of the given Scriptures by seeing where it is located and what is the bigger picture and the context of the inspired writer.
Chapter 7 of Romans is in my estimation the most introspective thought on our need for God than all of the other chapters in the Bible. It strikes home for Paul is showing us the state of his own soul and is sharing deeply of his sins and temptations. Despite our gift of faith, we need to look deeply at who we really are and what we are doing about becoming better disciples of the Lord. Psalm 51 does the same on the part of the great king David, but Paul goes into the world of our conscience and opens new ways of looking at ourselves realistically.
Paul certainly meditated often on the great Psalm 119, the longest in the Bible. He found great wisdom and love for the whole of the Old Testament in this magnificent hymn—an alphabetical one that covers the gifts God gave Paul through the Torah. We, too, in taking the response can pray over what Paul has said in chapter 7: “Lord, I am yours; save me for I have sought your precepts (Ps. 119:94).
Jesus is addressing the crowds in our Gospel today. He tells them they are quite smart about reading the weather and other things in nature. But they do not read their own situation in life and how it fits in the present with God’s plan for them called salvation history in our modern terminology. They lack spiritual insight such as Paul gives us in his seventh and eighth chapter of Romans.
Jesus is awakening them from their torpor and daily routine with his new strong teachings about the meaning of life in relationship to the Father. He wants them and us to live in the present and to be aware of the kingdom of God that is among us and within us. Jesus is God among us or Emmanuel as Matthew has named him in chapter one of his Gospel. Let us pray this day with this thought from Psalm 119:68: “Lord, teach us wisdom and knowledge for in your commands I trust.” Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.