When I read Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans today (7:18-25a), what comes to mind is that famous idiom Jesus spoke in the Garden of Gethsemane. As his three companions could not stay awake with him, Jesus said: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). Who among us has not had this experience? Let me count all the ways and the times.
“Spirit” and “flesh” are a common biblical antithesis. Saint Paul often uses this dual aspect of our personhood — as in today’s first reading.
Let’s consider “spirit” as that inner dynamism that urges us to do good, put the other first, go the extra mile for someone, and love no matter the cost. It’s grace working in us, that divine spark. When we sense that movement in us, it becomes a moment to pay attention, be grateful, be alert, and act. The “flesh”? “I’m too tired.” “I have too many things on my ‘to-do’ list.” “There’s a team to root for.” “Emails, texts to reply to.” Etc., etc.
Obviously, we can pray at any time to the Lord that we might heed the “call” so that we can respond to the grace that really is there at every moment of our day. I like to present that prayer at the Presentation of the Gifts each time at Mass. “Lord put that law (Romans 7:22), that inner spark in me today, that I might find delight in you, that I might be ready to serve, to respond, to put aside all my things of the flesh.”
This reflection reminds me of that beautiful poem of Saint Mother Teresa: Do it Anyway. Google it.
The good you do today will often be forgotten tomorrow. Do it anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. (Excerpt from “Do It Anyway” by Mother Teresa)