The Mystery of Sin and Saint Paul
HOOKSET, NH (Catholic Online) - Saint Paul described the human enigma this way: "My own actions bewilder me; what I do is not what I wish to do, but something which I hate. Why then, if what I do is something I have no wish to do, I thereby admit that the Law [of God] is worthy of all honor; meanwhile, my action does not come from me, but from the sinful principle that dwells in me.
Of this I am certain, that no principle of good dwells in me, that is, in my natural self; praiseworthy intentions are always ready at hand, but I cannot find my way to perform them; it is not the good my will prefers, but the evil my will disapproves that I find myself doing.
And if what I do is something I have not the will to do, it cannot be I that bring it about; it must be the sinful principle that dwells in me. This, then, is what I find about the Law [of God], that evil is close at my side, when my will is to do what is praiseworthy. Inwardly, I applaud God's disposition, but I observe another disposition in my lower self, which raises war against the disposition of my [heart], and so I am handed over as a captive to that disposition towards sin which my lower self contains" (Rm 7:15-23).
The biological life, with its sensory attractions and physical appetites, drew Saint Paul in one direction. The moral life, complicated by selfish desires, disorderly affections, and unstable emotions, had him struggle in a second direction. The loftier movements of his mind and the innate desire to live according to God's truthful love set him off in a third direction.
This turmoil within convinced Saint Paul that there is the universal experience of concupiscence. So, when some forbidden fruit becomes appealing to a person, it is concupiscence at work within him or her.
The Catechism defines concupiscence: "Etymologically, 'concupiscence' can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The Apostle, Saint Paul, identifies it with the rebellion of the 'flesh' against the 'spirit.' Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of [Original] Sin. It unsettles man's moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sin" (Catechism, no. 2515).
Scripturally speaking, concupiscence arouses selfish loves: "For all that is in the world is concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and pride of life" (1 Jn 2:16).
Saint Paul gave this graphic description of lived concupiscence: "And so now they are steeped in all sorts of injustice, rottenness, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, wrangling, treachery, and spite; libelers, slanderers, enemies of God, rude, arrogant and boastful, enterprising in evil, rebellious to parents, without brains, honor, love, or pity. They are well aware of God's ordinance: that those who behave like this deserve to die - yet they not only do it, but even applaud others who do the same" (Rm 1:29-32).
Nonetheless, sacred scripture speaks of a truth more powerful than sin: "Gracious is the Lord, eternal his merciful love" (Ps 100:5).
Jesus of Nazareth confirmed the truth of this profound gift of God, which is the third and final element of salvation history - redemption: And afterwards, when he was taking a meal in the house, many publicans and sinners were to be found at table with him and his disciples.
"The Pharisees saw this, and asked his disciples, 'How comes it that your master eats with publicans and sinners?' Jesus heard it, and said, 'It is not those who are in health that have need of the physician, it is those who are sick. Go home and find out what the words mean, 'It is mercy that wins favor with me, not sacrifice.' I have come to call the sinner, not the just" (Mt 9:10-13).
With a divine order and a declaration, Jesus of Nazareth put a human face on and gave a human voice to the merciful love of God. This changed forever both the love-relationship of Creation and the justice-relationship of the Fall. By his redemptive act of self-sacrifice on a Roman Cross at Mount Calvary, the God-man, changed forever the relationship between the Creator and his human creatures.
Now, the "name of the game," so to speak, is merciful love: "The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and rich in merciful love; he will not always be angry, nor his resentment remain for all time.
He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor does he reward us according to our iniquities. As the height of heaven is above the earth, so strong is his merciful love for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our iniquities from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so has the Lord compassion on those that fear him; he knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust" (Ps 103: 8-12).
John D. Meehan has been involved in the lay apostolate of the Catholic Church since the close of the Second Vatican Council. He resides in New Hampshire with his lovely wife Elizabeth.
Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for MARCH 2017
Support for Persecuted Christians. That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.
The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism. If you do not know the date of your own ... continue reading
I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, ... continue reading
The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables ... continue reading
It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the ... continue reading
"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- 'Living Lent': Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent - Day 27
- Daily Readings for Monday, March 27, 2017
- St. Rupert: Saint of the Day for Monday, March 27, 2017
- Daily Reading for Sunday, March 26th, 2017 HD Video
- The importance of human touch - Premature baby reaches out nurse in ...
- Medicaid - Who needs it and what will happen to the program with ...
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 HD Video
- Daily Reading for Monday, March 27th, 2017 HD
- Adorable girl captured stealing Pope Francis' hat in hilarious footage HD
- Cause of cancer detected from unexpected and unpreventable element HD
- Daily Reading for Saturday, March 25th, 2017 HD
Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.