October 21, 2011 - Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Can you sympathize with the struggle that St. Paul is describing? I can. He, the great apostle and saint, is freely admitting that even he does not live up to his own desire. He does not do the good that he wants to do, but the evil that he does not want to do. If he can admit his sin so freely, I can too: I am a miserable sinner.

Like St. Paul, I feel as if there were two of me, fighting against each other. There is the me that loves the Lord and wants to do whatever will glorify him, and then there is the me that wants to sin. Me, myself, and I, are all one person. How is it possible that I am in disagreement with myself? I do not merely mean that I can see both sides, but that I can make a good resolution at noon and break it by 1 o’clock. I have a fickle heart. When I can feel the power and joy of the Holy Spirit, I would gladly do anything the Lord wants of me. Then I forget about the Lord and suddenly find myself committing a sin; “I find myself” as if I were not myself.

I cannot simply decide to follow Jesus; my worse self will not let me. I do decide to follow him, but then I do not follow him. Who is the real me then? Am I really the servant of God who delights in the law of the Lord, or am I really the miserable slave of sin who cannot get free? Am I a saint with faults or a sinner who fails to be as good as I wish I were?

I repent of my sins, but I still want to be better. I need something more than good resolutions and good intentions. I am incapable of being who I want to be; I cannot change me, and I refuse to be satisfied with who I am. I could climb to the top of some mountain in Tibet and study for years under a wise man, and I would too, if that would work, but I know that the good I want is not within me. No guru can help me do what I want to do. No reiki is going to make me who I want to be. No yoga, no Oprah, no Deepak Chopra has what I'm missing. Just Jesus.