Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wlil we ever learn?

The more I study scripture, the more I realize how we humans seem to repeat the same patterns over and over.  The Israelites of the old testament consistently came back to God.. but then as soon as they got comfortable... fell off again to do other things. An endless cycle of falling away, hearing God's call, coming back.. then falling away again.

It's easy to judge them harshly isn't it?  Looking back we see how stupid it is to do that.. but then when we look at our own lives, we find that same pattern.  After a disaster like 911, the pews are full.   People come looking for answers.  Looking for comfort.  Looking for hope.   They stay for a while, but eventually it begins to dwindle again.  They go back to their lives, their comforts, their 'joys.'   The same with all of us really.   Even those of us who continue go to church find ourselves in ruts.  We find ourselves in the pew becoming mechanical for a while.   Then we go on a retreat weekend, have some of those nice mountain top experiences, and then we are charged for a while.  Then that 'buzz' begins to fade and we go back to our old ways.

Saint Paul in the first reading for tomorrow talks about this.  He talks about how hard it is to not sin.  That though our will is so very ready to do the right thing, we find ourselves falling away to do the other.   How that our mind and desires are at war with each other.   We know the right thing to do, but our flesh wants us to do the thing that feels good.  We want to listen to those things that entice our ears, eat those things that entice our pallets, touch those things that tickle our senses.   Then we fight with that desire trying to do the 'good' thing, and avoid the bad.  Then he cries out at the end of this dissertation "Who will deliver me from this mortal body?" Thanks be the God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

That's really where I find myself having the most trouble.  It's not that I don't know the right thing to do, my conscience is well informed.   It's not even that I am not making a commitment to do the right thing either.   I do truly and firmly mean it when I say in confession that I intend to change.  The real problem is when my ego gets in the way.   When I say "You know, I think I've finally beat this habit."  When I start feeling like my own personal discipline and effort has somehow made me a better person.  Rather, I agree with Saint Paul the Apostle, when he says: "I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh."

What I suggest though is a different way to overcome those sins.  (We all have them btw, that personal sin that we just can't seem to shake.  That thorn in our flesh that God does not take away.)  That sin that we constantly need to confess and repent of, and we keep trying to do better but failing... How do we overcome it?  We do resist it.  We do try to mentally and physically prepare ourselves to avoid it.  We avoid whatever occasion of sin that draws us to temptation.  Then we give it over to God, and ask him instead to 'get this.'   It's no longer me saying "I got this,"  but rather me saying "you got this." It's when I allow God's grace to flow through me via the sacraments, when I prayerfully look to God to cleanse me of my sin, and then work with him, not on my own.. but aligning my free will with His will that things begin to change. 

That to me is the meaning of Holiness.   To align our will with God.  To conform ourselves to Christ.  As the Psalm declares:

R. (68b) Lord, teach me your statutes.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commands I trust.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
You are good and bountiful;
teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Never will I forget your precepts,
for through them you give me life.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that we have been given reason, logic, and the faculties to understand and make use of both.  He reminds us that we know what is right, why do we keep doing wrong and having to go the magistrates to solve our issues?  Rather shouldn't we just give it over to God and lower our ego, settle our petty differences and avoid any sort of prison?  What does this mean spiritually?  Are you looking for the signs?  Do you look to see if you are ready?  Do you examine your conscience daily?  And when you find that you've done something wrong?  Instead of waiting for the day of Judgement do you throw yourself at the feet of God, asking for his mercy now while on the journey, before you get to the 'court'?   Do you receive the sacraments regularly?  Confession?  These are our ways of settling now, by casting our sins down at the foot of the cross and allowing God to forgive our debt now.. because if we wait till the last day... well, it'll be too late to settle.  Get ready, be ready, stay ready. 

In Christ, His servant, and yours;