Rom 7:18-25 / Lk 12:54-59
Once again St. Paul demonstrates his special knack for cutting to the heart of the matter and speaking wisely for us all. Reflecting on his own life, he says, “What happens is that I do, not the good I intend, but the evil I don’t intend.” Isn’t it the truth! We set out with the best of intentions, and then everything goes awry. Sometimes it’s just poor planning or not seeing the matter at hand in all its complexity. That’s the easy part, and better planning and more thoughtful analysis can fix it.
What’s far more frustrating is to set out with a good plan and the best of intentions and then to make a mess of it all because our ego, or our fears, or our loves or hates get in the way and send us off in the wrong direction. The worst part of all is knowing at the very moment that we act that what we’re doing is stupid, wrong, and counter-productive. We’ve all been there — many times! And we’ve found ourselves crying out in anguish with St. Paul, “Who can set me free from all this?”
That question tormented Paul for the many years before he found Jesus. He so much wanted to do the right and to be right with God and with his neighbor. And his failures broke his heart. So, when he finally met Jesus, his relief and his gratitude were beyond all telling. And that’s the experience he wants to share with us: Don’t despair. Open your heart to the Lord. He will give you what you need. And when you stumble, he’ll pick you up and help you try again … and again … and again. He never gives up on you, so don’t ever give up.