Friday, October 25, 2013

“The law detects, grace alone conquers sin.”

“Trusting in God's grace means trusting in God's love for us rather than our love for God. […] Therefore our prayers should consist mainly of rousing our awareness of God's love for us rather than trying to rouse God's awareness of our love for him.” – Peter Kreeft (Philosophy professor at Boston College)

Scripture Text: (PS 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94)
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.

Sometimes it’s hard to be honest with ourselves. There are some truths about us that we really don’t want to face. And one of those truths is that our good intentions are not always enough when it comes to following God’s laws. Part of us doesn’t like facing the fact that we need Jesus and his grace. We’d rather forget that our ability to be righteous or holy comes through the cross and not through our efforts or good intentions alone.

Paul provides a good dose of honesty in today’s reading from Mass (Romans 7:18-25a). In no uncertain terms, he tells us that even though we may want to do good, we can’t if we rely only on ourselves. In fact, we find ourselves at times doing the very things we don’t want to do—the things we know aren’t right. And so we end up crying out with Paul, “What’s wrong with me?”

Of course, we know what is wrong. Sin is a very powerful force, and the simple fact of our baptism isn’t enough for us to be completely free of its grasp. Yes, God has freed us from slavery to sin. We are all a new creation in Christ, and his life in us has changed everything. But that change won’t take root and flourish in us unless we choose to yield to him and the new life he has given us. It’s only as we practice leaning on Christ and drawing our strength from his love and grace that we will find true freedom from sin, not just good intentions.

What sinful areas in your life are the most stubborn? What do you do when you become frustrated by your failures to follow God? Are you tempted to grit your teeth and try harder to fix it yourself? Don’t do it! Rather, confess the truth about yourself, and turn to Christ. Thank him in the midst of your powerlessness, and surrender to him as Paul did. Come to him, and trust him to bring this good work in you to completion.

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