Reconciliation Lectionary: Romans 7:14-25a

mary-the-penitent.jpgAnother long passage that probably does not see a lot of use with the Sacrament of Penance. This important passage in Romans 7 is too long and repetitive for either form I or form II. But it is worth a look, possibly for preliminary reflection and preparation:

Brothers and sisters:
We know that the law is spiritual;
but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin.
What I do, I do not understand.
For I do not do what I want,
but I do what I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want,
I concur that the law is good.
So now it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.

I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.

Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A shorter option is verses 18-25a (starting at the first break in the text above). For individual reflection, why not just verses 18-19 (marked by the second break, above)?

Regardless, this passage picks up on the theme of slavery, but launches into a reflection on the inner urges of the sinner that carry us from the virtue we know into places we realize, deep down, we do not want to go.

The Scripture scholar Brendan Byrne SJ, along with other commentators, see this as possibly less a personal confession from Saint Paul and possibly a general illustration of the problem of sin, guilt, and awareness in the believer.

Whether this is true or not, and however deeply one wants to enter into the Pauline theology, I take away two observations which lead to a human response.

First, that the recognition of sin inspires us to note the repetitive nature of our transgressions. Readers might complain of the apostle is boring, but Paul drives home the idea that sin is always with us, no matter how much we don’t want it. Hence, we should be prepared to repeat ourselves as we come to the Lord for forgiveness.

My second observation involves the end of this passage.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What a marvelous acclamation. If we’re not using the long or short form of Romans 7 in the Liturgy of the Word, perhaps we might consider a brief musical setting of the concluding statement of confidence for the conclusion of the rite.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Rite of Penance, Scripture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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