|Feast of St. Anthony Claret, Bishop
Psalm 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94
The message Paul describes in this brief reading from his letter
to the Romans has puzzled me for most of my life. How come when
I know what is right and resolve to do what is good, I find myself again
and again doing just the opposite? After all it is a pretty universal
tendency. So I know that I am not the only one looking for the answer
to this phenomenon.
Paul also struggled to know what caused this behavior. He speaks of
the flesh at war with the spirit. It’s as though there were two different
natures fighting each other in one and the same person. “Miserable
one that I am!”
Is it just concupiscence? Is it an unconscious and innate desire naturally
favoring the easier, more selfish, more pleasurable, more apathetic, more
exciting, and/or more risky course of action. Whatever our unique
struggle might involve, we can oftentimes become discouraged and give up
hope of ever controlling these inordinate desires.
In the Gospel, Jesus is reminding his listeners that they are good at predicting
the weather from present “appearances of the earth and the skies.”
Since this is so, Jesus warns us that it would be hypocritical refusing to
foresee and not to predict the results of our cowardly conduct. And
the hypocrisy becomes critical when our conscience refuses to control these
When the struggle involves our concupiscence regarding anger, greed, sloth,
lust, gluttony, or other moral failings, we can expect the fight to involve
victories and defeats. But there’s final hope of victory each time
our resistance overcomes the evil tendencies. Obviously it makes us
better prepared and a bit stronger for the next encounter.
We have no control over the signs predicting tomorrow’s weather. But
we can in advance somewhat protect ourselves from the consequences.
In regard to our behavioral tendencies, we can not only shield ourselves
from their consequences, but cooperating with God’s grace we can even manage
to control the destructive signs. With Paul we may ask: “Who will deliver
me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”