For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
Teach me discernment and knowledge
for I trust in your commands.
You are good and your deeds are good;
teach me your statutes. (R./)
Let your love be ready to console me
by your promise to your servant.
Let your love come to me and I shall live
for your law is my delight. (R./)
I will never forget your precepts
for with them you give me life.
Save me, for I am yours
since I seek your precepts (R./)
Jesus said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'It is going to rain;' and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat;' and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
"And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I ell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny."
Hope is a difficult virtue to appreciate and safeguard, since in many ways faith and love are more obvious. Faith can be clarified by studying nature, the Bible and theology, while love can clearly be practiced (or not) in our response to the needs of our neighbour. Hope is perhaps the most intangible the three major virtues.
In today's text from Romans Paul offers an existential view of hope. He views life's challenges not in calm detachment but how he feels inside his own complicated self. Although a gifted and creative apostle, he proved to be a thorny character for many, especially for Peter and the Jewish Christians. Sometimes he feels frustrated and despondent at others' rejection of him. At other times he acts so impulsively that his actions almost seemed against his own will. Paul agonizes at length over his inner tensions: "My inner self agrees with the law of God, but I see in myself another law at war with the law of my mind." This leads him to the impassioned cry, "What a wretch I am. Who can free me from this body under the power of death?" This bout of self-criticism does not end up in futile moaning. Instead it blossoms into an act of thanksgiving, "All praise to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" He is candidly aware of being conflicted, confused, caught between his ideals and the danger of selfish pride, but is still full of hope.
Today's gospel shows how impulsiveness can be turned into a necessary virtue. Some chances do not come a second time, and our failure to rise to an occasion could mean losing a golden opportunity. Some graces belong to the day and the hour, the kairos, a favourite biblical term. Kairos is not just an ordinary moment like any other in the long sequence of time (chronos) but a very special moment with vital implications. The moment must be seized, for the sake of love and fidelity. The stakes are high, and not to decide is itself a negative decision.
We tend to talk a lot about the weather in Ireland. It is a regular topic of conversation. We find it a useful thing to talk about when we have nothing much else to say. Because the weather in Ireland is so changeable and variable, there is always something to say about it. It has either been raining or is raining or is about to rain. Even when it doesn't rain for days we consider it worthy of comment.
The Galileans were equally aware of changing weather conditions. They knew what weather to expect from the direction of the wind and could read the face of the earth and the sky. Still they were not able to read signs of the times they were living in. They failed to recognize from what Jesus was saying and doing that God was moving among them in a special way. We too can be good at weather forecasting but not so aware of the Lord's presence in our lives. Jesus promised to be with us always until the end of time. The signs of his presence can be subtle and non-dramatic, but it is very real. We pray for a better understanding of grace in our lives, in the course of every day.