Memory of the Church

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Memory of Saint Anthony the Abbot. He followed the Lord into the Egyptian desert and was father of many monks. A day of reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Romans 7, 1-13

As people who are familiar with the Law, brothers, you cannot have forgotten that the law can control a person only during that person's lifetime.

A married woman, for instance, is bound to her husband by law, as long as he lives, but when her husband dies all her legal obligation to him as husband is ended.

So if she were to have relations with another man while her husband was still alive, she would be termed an adulteress; but if her husband dies, her legal obligation comes to an end and if she then has relations with another man, that does not make her an adulteress.

In the same way you, my brothers, through the body of Christ have become dead to the Law and so you are able to belong to someone else, that is, to him who was raised from the dead to make us live fruitfully for God.

While we were still living by our natural inclinations, the sinful passions aroused by the Law were working in all parts of our bodies to make us live lives which were fruitful only for death.

But now we are released from the Law, having died to what was binding us, and so we are in a new service, that of the spirit, and not in the old service of a written code.

What should we say, then? That the Law itself is sin? Out of the question! All the same, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have known what sin was; for instance, I should not have known what it meant to covet if the Law had not said: You are not to covet.

But, once it found the opportunity through that commandment, sin produced in me all kinds of covetousness; as long as there is no Law, sin is dead.

Once, when there was no Law, I used to be alive; but when the commandment came, sin came to life

and I died. The commandment was meant to bring life but I found it brought death,

because sin, finding its opportunity by means of the commandment, beguiled me and, by means of it, killed me.

So then, the Law is holy, and what it commands is holy and upright and good.

Does that mean that something good resulted in my dying? Out of the question! But sin, in order to be identified as sin, caused my death through that good thing, and so it is by means of the commandment that sin shows its unbounded sinful power.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The apostle highlights liberty of a Christian with respect to the law. He insists on it because it is easy to forget from what an abyss of sadness we have been freed. Thus the apostle does well to urge us to remember our past condition, when sin dominated us to the point of making our lives – and the lives of those who were close to us – bitter. The person of flesh, who has not been reanimated by the Spirit, is trapped in his or her own selfishness and thus unable to look beyond him or herself and live a beautiful and dignified life. Self-referentiality (or philautia, love for one’s self, as the holy Fathers said) binds a person to sin and to the idolatry of his or her ego. The law was meant to reveal this sin. Paul explains this with the example of adultery. A woman becomes an adulteress if she goes with another while her husband is alive, but after his death she is freed from the bond. In the same way, Paul says, the believer is free from the observance of the law because of Christ’s death. In fact, salvation comes from God, who gives his Spirit to men and women so that they might live according to the Gospel and not according to their earthly and fleshly desires. Those who welcome Christ are freed from having to obey the law and liberated from the slavery of the flesh so that they might become new, spiritual men and women, sustained by the power of God. Paul shows that the law is holy because it shows where sin is, and it is sin that “brings death.” United with the Lord, the Christian knows how to recognize the sin that is trying to work in him or her through the temptation of philautia, which is all but the real name for sin.