Deacon Stu Dobson’s Reflection – October 22, 2021
29th Friday in Ordinary time, October 22, 2021, Feast of Saint John Paul II
Rom 7:18-25a, Ps 119:66, 68, 76-77, 93-94, Lk 12:54-59
I was at a meeting the other day when someone announced, “Evil is afoot.” I was wondering if they were reliving the time of the apostles because Paul proclaims the very same thing in the first reading. “I do not do the good that I want, but the evil that I do not want” So yes, evil was (and still is) afoot. Why is it that we make poor choices and succumb to the very things we do not want to do? Well, for starters, God gave us free will. God loved us so much that He wanted us to choose, specifically to choose to love Him. He knew that if we didn’t have the ability to choose, it wouldn’t end up being an unconditional love for Him. That is not what He wants.
Secondly, in addition to our free will, we have this thing called concupiscence. That desire or emotion we have that drives us to make bad choices and do the very thing we do not want to do. It is often called our innate propensity to sin. With a well-formed conscience our intellect will intercede for us, and work with our memory to understand if the decision we are about to make is good, or bad. On the surface, it sounds like St. Paul had some issues with concupiscence. I seriously doubt it, but at least it is somewhat good to know the apostles struggled with the very same things we do. Again, back to that free will God gave us. At least it is comforting to know the apostles were human too! And they ended up Saints.
Which brings us to our feast day today, the memorial of Saint John Paul II, JPII, a modern-day Saint. Someone who was alive in our (or at least most of our) lives. I am not even going to touch on his life, there are volumes of information on him, and close to a seven-hour movie about him (search Karol on Formed). But I can say this, it is absolutely amazing to say, my children were in the presence of a Saint when he was alive. One thing I do remember about JPII was his ability to reach humanity. JPII was a people’s pope, one who was charismatic, loved by all and communicated with his flock. This doesn’t make any other pope better or worse, it just says who JPII was.
In many ways, JPII emulated what Jesus was saying today in the Gospel – destroy evil with love. Jesus says today to settle your disputes with each other peacefully. If you do not, you may not like the end results. Better yet, do not let your concupiscence get in the way and force you to make a bad decision. Form your conscience well, slow down and let your intellect help you do good, not evil.