Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Thorn in the Flesh

I remember how this started, at least from my point of view. It was the first Holy Week that I spent in our parish, as up to last year we were just a sub-parish and I was free to attend Easter Triduum services at my Catholic community, which is not parish-based. That week, I felt I was going on and on like Martha, fulfilling tasks and learning new duties as I came along, and I found myself staring, exhausted, at the Crucifix. I realized I wanted more. I wanted to understand or at least know more about what happened on Good Friday. It was not enough for me to be involved in the minute details of the prusisyon or in the layout of the Holy Week schedule. I had so many questions and knew so little.

Our parish priest asked me what I was thinking about as I must have stood for a long time, and I tried to tell him the things I was grappling with. He said, "Don't worry, we'll cover those topics when we study Paul's Letter to the Romans during our weekly Scripture Study at the parish".

So part of me wanted to know more about salvation and that part is awed at the generosity of God's love and the immensity of Jesus' sacrifice as it is revealed to us verse by verse, sometimes word for word, every week during Scripture study. My "classmates" and I exchange quizzical looks at the input we are getting, simply because they are sometimes too much for us to comprehend quickly. I take down notes feverishly but periodically, during the lecture, I have to put down my pen and sit with the ideas for a while in order for them to sink in properly.

As I learn that I have been saved as a unilateral act of God, and I can either respond or refuse to it, my mind tells me I'm a fool to reject this golden offer. The reality, however, is that I am a sinner. I rebel against God. I've sinned in the past; I'm sinning still everyday; and unless I die tomorrow, I'm pretty sure I will sin again in the future. It is perverse, indeed! Why can't I simply accept what is good, and right, the thing that is pleasing to God who made the first move by loving me and sustaining that love for me? Why, despite this growing knowledge, do I still sin? Why is my sin ever before me? Why do I give in to the temptation to disobey God? Why do I grow impatient with Him? Why must I try Him so with my willful disobedience?

I know the saints can explain this and I am assured that I'm not the only one with a thorn in the flesh that God won't simply remove. Still, I am struck at the reality of my own sinfulness, despite Jesus' supreme act of love that ought to make me refuse to sin forever and ever. I wish I would improve in this struggle, so that I don't waste my salvation and meet God face to face someday.

For a day in thy courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness. -- Ps 84:10, RSV

No comments: