One of tomorrow’s texts, Romans 7:15-25a, contains Paul’s self-revelation of the battle within. Like all of us, he so often fails to achieve the high ideals that he’s sold on. Woe is him! But it is his faith in Christ that rescues him from despair.
Nevertheless, the reality Paul describes readily attracts the label “hypocrites” upon those who seek to follow the Way. Why? In the eyes of some critics I have heard, it’s because followers can’t ever hope to live up to the kind of selfless love that Jesus inspires. Funny, I thought the word had more to do with its base meaning – “actor” thus “someone who pretends” they are something they are not.
I see Paul and most followers of my acquaintance doing the exact opposite – they are giving us the real deal – not some pious showmanship. The faith in Jesus that Paul says rescues him from despair is not some magic bullet either. It’s hard work focusing attention and awareness on what the desert guides of the third century of the Church called logismoi (literally “self-talk”). Continual focus on the call of Jesus helps us to discern, question and challenge the “self-talk” that leads to multiple defeat.
Whether we are hypocrites within or without the Church, such self-attention is indispensable firepower in the constant self-battles we face.