At the end of Lent I find myself identifying with St Pauls words more deeply: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me… Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:15,17,24 – 25)
I don’t know about you but to me it seems like every time I set up a regimen or rule to follow during Lent, I fall short and fail. With all my will power I can’t muster the strength to follow through on my promises. In the words of St Gregory of Nyssa:
“Our nature was sick and needed a doctor. Man had fallen and needed someone to raise him up. He who ceased to participate in the good needed someone to bring him back to it. He who was shut in darkness needed the presence of life. The prisoner was looking for someone to ransom him, the captive for someone to take his part. He who was under the yoke of slavery was looking for someone to set him free.”
The law as well as Lent reveals to us the depth of our inadequacy to save ourselves, we can’t. “So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.” This is St Paul acknowledging that he has failed in his nepsis (watchfulness) and let sin into his life, sin makes him do things that he knows he does not want to do! This champion of faith is painfully aware that he falls short in defeating his ‘flesh’ on his own but he also knows where to turn: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today is Holy Tuesday, let us fix our eyes and hearts on the One Who is able to do what we can’t. Let us follow the example of St Paul and surrender to the grace of God. Let us invite Him to clean the inside of our cup and dish. Let us be like the wise virgins, keeping our lamps burning. Lets stay awake as the hour of the end is approaching.