Brothers and sisters:
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….
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
—Romans 7:18–19, 24–25
There is nothing new in falling down in the contest; the wicked thing is to keep on lying there.
—St. Abraham Kidunaia
I have a tendency, when I’ve made a mistake, to start all over with a clean slate rather than continue on with what I have. The problem with this mindset is twofold. First, it assumes that my next attempt will be perfect, when actually, my human tendency toward error is ever-present, and I will never be able to achieve perfection on my own. Second, in constantly stopping and restarting, I miss out on opportunities to actually improve my skills. The point is not to do the work perfectly but to learn and grow from the experience. If I assume that my work is ruined because of one mistake, then I might be giving up on something that still has great potential.
When I discard my “imperfect” creations, I miss out on whatever beauty God might draw from them. He is not surprised when I fall—as Fr. Mike Schmitz says, God instituted the Sacrament of Confession because He knew we would need it. In today’s reading, we see that even St. Paul, despite his best intentions, fell into sin. But he did not stay there—he recognized that Christ alone could deliver him from his misery, and he continued to fight the good fight.
Jesus gave us an example of how to fall and get back up again as He carried His Cross to Calvary. Let us remember his example whenever we feel discouraged by our own mistakes.
1. Jesus falls the third time / St. Boniface Church, Leeuwarden, Netherlands / photo by RomkeHoekstra / CC BY-SA 4.0
2. Stations of the Cross / Saint Maurice Church, Strasbourg, France / photo by Ralph Hammann / GFDL