Today’s readings from Romans and Matthew strike at the heart of Jesus’ message. Understood properly they hold the truth of Jesus’ teachings.
First we have Paul bewailing the fact that he does that which he would not do but blaming it on sin residing in his flesh. We have to divorce our thinking from Platonic dualism—flesh and spirit. Flesh does not equal the body. This is a statement about the human condition. It is about our survival instinct driven by the reptilian brain getting in the way of our becoming more. How difficult it is for us to transcend our survival instinct. Taking the Genesis story literally (always a bad practice), Augustine and others tagged the condition as original sin. The Genesis story is a symbolic description of the human condition. But there never was a fall from a human state of perfection. Evolutionary theory as envisioned by Teilhard Chardin sees the cosmos in a state of becoming more. Chardin calls our struggle for becoming more Christogenesis. Paul gets it right. He is powerless to transcend his instincts without the power of grace-filled love, which is Christ Jesus incarnate. The only way to transcend our survival instinct is through the love power Jesus sends us in his Holy Spirit.
The Risen Christ in Matthew 11 invites us who labor and are burned to come to him. His love makes the burden of our angst over becoming more bearable. As we struggle to become our face before we were born, we learn that love overcomes the survival instinct the Risen Christ. Our God is merciful and compassionate always with us in our human struggles whatever they may be. Our burden lightens and our angst is assuaged when we rest in the love of God. Our pilgrimage is toward the Omega Point—all things brought to perfection in Christ. On the lifelong journey, the Risen Christ calls to be more than what we are but is ever merciful when we fall short.