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Always in Christ

First Reading: Romans 7:18-25A

Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 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.

Gospel: Luke 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds,
“When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny.”

NAB

oct 23

For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.

I remember the first time I found this verse in my Bible as a young girl. I highlighted it because it amazed me. Really? Saint Paul, the great missionary, struggled with sin the same way I did? He knew what it meant to truly want and try to be good but to be unable to do the things he wanted to do?

Now, all these years later, this verse still amazes me. It points to the common struggle we all share as believers. We want to be good. We try to be good. We try to do all the things we know we should . . . we pray, we spend time in Scripture, we go to Mass and follow all the rules, and we try to speak kindly and not gossip and avoid rolling our eyes at the most annoying person we know, and yet, in the midst of all our striving, we just keep messing up.

I struggle with perfectionism and having unreasonably high standards for myself and others. I’m hard on myself about this, but it’s difficult to change, no matter how much I want to change it. Sometimes, I find myself standing before someone I love, feeling totally disappointed with how he or she has let me down, struggling not to be harsh with him or her. This verse reminds me that we are all in the same boat. We are all sharing this struggle. We all want to do what we do not do, and sometimes we all do that very thing we try our hardest to avoid.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, indeed. Without His intervention, there would be no hope. Since I prove to myself on a daily basis that I cannot do the right thing through my own willpower, I’ll never understand why He thought it necessary to die on my behalf . . . but I’m so glad He did, aren’t you? Because of His love, there’s a way forward, after all, no matter how badly or how often we mess things up. Through Him, we have hope.

The next time you find yourself struggling with a familiar temptation, remember that everyone, even Saint Paul, has been there. Jesus has overcome even our most persistent sins, and we can always call on Him: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Abbey Dupuy is a homeschooling mama to preschooler twins, a first grader and a new baby. You can find out more about her here.

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