Today is the feast of St Augustine - who often gets a poor press these days. But he was a man whose life's journey forced him to look at the contractions within himself, and to finally live in peace with the profound paradox that is every human person.
God has endless patience for the confused messiness that makes up our lives - but we have to learn, often the hard way, that compassion for self and others is the core of the Gospel and the path to serenity.
Richard Rohr, OFM, offers a reflection for this feast day that speaks to this spiritual dynamic.
"Jesus is giving us a win-win worldview (which is why it is called Good News!), but what the ego invariably does with the Gospel is make it into a win-lose game. That’s the only way the dualistic mind can think. You’re either in or you’re out. It defines itself largely by what it is not. The mystical or non-dual mind is alone capable of win-win.
Yet we don’t know how to include, how to forgive, how to pour mercy and compassion and patience upon events as God apparently does. Augustine of Hippo, a man filled with contradictions, was a master at holding those contradictions within himself and before God. He describes the power and simultaneously the deep powerlessness of true God experience.
Faith absolutely knows and yet it does not know at all—and is content with this! Thus true believers are very humble and yet quietly confident in the same moment."