Humans are strange

When we ponder on the human beings in this world and how they behave or sincerely examine our own conscience regarding our reactions we find something strange. The strangeness is: why do people act this way or that?

Or I could ask myself also: why have I given in to this or that reaction? I cannot understand. Given a different circumstance or a different frame of mind I would have acted differently.

Towards the last quarter of the 4th century and the first quarter of the 5th, a person by the name of Pelagius visited Rome. He was struck by the low morality of human beings there. On enquiry he got the blatant answer: what could we do?

 Our human nature is corrupt and is prone to sin. You find similar excuses even today. What could I do? I am pulled down by these forces which I cannot resist and invariably I yield to them. God did not help me by his Grace to resist the temptation. Pelagius upbraided such people and said: do not put the blame on your nature. Your human nature is good and God has endowed you with enough strength and free will to resist all evil. Stand up to it and be a human being!

To this, another contemporary, a saint who had been converted from earlier evil ways, St. Augustine said in no unclear terms: it is true that human nature, created by the good God, is good but it is wounded by the ‘sin of the world’. In other words: sin had entered human beings’ lives and has played havoc. Our human free will though present, has been weakened. So we need God’s Grace badly and without which, we cannot do any good whatsoever. So it is proper for us human beings to humble ourselves in front of God and look to his help and guidance at all times.

God raises the humble and lowly. Those who acknowledge their weakness and poverty before God are lifted up by his power. We read in the Gospel according to St. Luke (18.10-14) a parable narrated by Jesus Christ. He says that two men went into the temple to pray. One went right up to the front and standing there described all the good he was doing: how he prayed, fasted and behaved so well.

The unsaid thing was that he was making a demand on God, a reward for all the good things he was supposedly doing; whereas the other man did not even cross the threshold of the temple but stood outside, not even daring to look up and said only one thing: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Jesus concludes the parable by declaring that the man who stood outside went home filled with God’s blessings but not the other man who only boasted and made demands on God.

So is it not good for us, during the holy season of Lent that is beginning, to humble ourselves, acknowledge our weakness and also learn at the same time to be kind towards others who are weak in any way?

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