Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Something inside us is amiss, even when we desire the good, for “the willing is ready at hand, but the doing good is not.” Lest one get smug about one’s own salvation, one need only note that this very salvation is not fully manifest within any one of us, since “I do not do the good I want but I do the evil that I do not want.” This manifestation of our fallenness shows our continued need for God’s grace, and the more we try to live on our own, apart from that grace, the more this need will make itself manifest in our inability to do the good that we want and our compulsion towards doing the evil that we do not want.
This expresses negatively what God wants us to experience in a positive way: our lives are not ours alone. The life that God gives us continues to be God’s. We cannot sever it from God and claim it for our own apart from God. Rather, God’s life continues to be fully God’s, even as it is truly given so that it can be fully our own as well. The life of grace is not an independent life, but a life that is profoundly in union with the Father, in Christ Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. When we try to live life on our own—a bad habit of ours, which one could call “original sin”—then even when we try to do good, we fail. The good that we can do, we can do by God’s grace, which is to say in union with God. Since this action is truly ours, one can properly call it a “merit,” but since this “merit” is God’s free gift to us—God’s life within us—we must call it a “grace.”