“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)
By talking about the flesh as weak, useless, and captive, St. Paul drives home the point that we cannot depend on our own strength as far as avoiding sin is concerned. To win the war against sin, we must keep running again and again to Jesus. Left to ourselves, we are such wretched creatures but thanks to Jesus Christ, by the power of His Grace, we can live above sin. Jesus himself acknowledged this fact when he said: “Cut off from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
In his book, Introduction to Devout Life, St. Francis De Sales explains thus: “As soon as you find yourself in any temptations, do as little children do when they see a wolf or a bear in the country; for straightway they run to the arms of their father or of their mother, or at all events they call them to their help and assistance. Have recourse in like matter to God, imploring His mercy and His assistance.” In other words, make every temptation an occasion for prayer. Do not trust in your flesh.
Back in the days, during our catechism classes, we were thought to always make the sign of the Cross and say a short prayer when we mistakenly see or hear something sinful and whenever we feel tempted to sin. The Good News is that this practice works wonders even for adults. Prayer no matter how short, imparts grace and grace is to the soul what air is to the body. A few minutes without it is death.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says, “as you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drags you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer and the officer put you in prison.” (Luke 12:57-58). The key phrase here is “Make an effort.”
As much it is important to ask for God’s grace in fighting temptations, we must never forget that grace builds on nature. God wants you to make an effort; that is, try to avoid danger, be wise. Your accuser is the devil and to conquer him, you must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom and grace to avoid sin in moments of temptation. Amen.
Bible Study: Romans 7:18-25, Ps. 119:66,68,76-77,93-94, Luke 12:54-59)