Romans 8:1-13, from which our second reading is taken in today's Mass, put forward four major themes which are essential to St Paul's understanding of the human condition prior to redemption in Christ.
Before man receives the grace of Christ, he is under the law of sin, the law of the flesh, the law of death, and the Law of Moses. The law of sin: Man is conceived in sin, in a state of rebellion against God. The law of the flesh: The lower part of man's soul, his passions and emotions ("the flesh"), rebels against the higher part of man's soul, his reason and will. The law of death: Man is conceived destined for death, not just bodily death but also eternal death. The Law of Moses: Although the Law pointed out the way to do good, it did not give man the grace to actually follow the path to heaven.
But Christ liberates us from sin, the flesh, death, and the Law of Moses! Christ makes us free! This is the joy and good news of the Gospel! However, because our hope is in heaven and not in the vanities of earth, we live a life of penance and mortification - putting to death the deeds of the body. As G.K. Chesterton once said, "It is better to fast for joy, than feast for misery."
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