I was reading, with Matins this morning, an excerpt from the treatise On the Six Days of Creation by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.  In it, he is wondering where evil comes from.  He concludes “It is a pervasion of mind and spirit, swerving from the way of true virtue, which frequently overtakes the unwary.  … The enemy is within us.  … Let us therefore not seek for causes outside ourselves nor blame others for [it].  Let us acknowledge our guilt.  For we must sillingly attribute to ourselves, not to others, whatever evil we can avoid doing when we so choose.”

It seemed to fit in with what I read in Forward Day By Day too.  There the author talked about people saying they believe in a loving, forgiving God who does not expect perfection.  And the author says that God is indeed loving and forgiving.  “But that doesn’t mean we can go blithely about our business as if all were well.  All is not well, and God does expect us to be perfect.  God’s kindness is meant to lead not to a self-satisfied complacency, but to repentance and a life of holiness.  Holiness is not something we achieve or arrive at, at least not in this life, but something we grow into.  … Jesus Christ is the strength we need to do what we otherwise could not do, to be what we otherwise could not be.  We live in Christ.  Day by day, we become more like Christ and his holiness becomes our holiness.  A careless acceptance of what we are now is not part of it.”

And for me, that seemed to tie into the gospel reading, where the man had been sitting (comfortably) by the pool for thirty eight years, until Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”  And after listening to all his comfortable excuses for why he could not be healed, Jesus simply told him “Stand up!  Pick up your mat and walk.”  And then, later on, when Jesus meets him again in the Temple (before the man turns him in to the authorities for helping him) Jesus tells him “Remember, now, you’ve been healed.  Give up your sins so that something worse won’t overtake you.”

And I hear my own tendency to blame others for my own poor choices and complacency.  I hear Jesus inviting me to walk with him and live in him and become more like him — which he alone makes possible.

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