In the first reading for today's liturgy we are presented a unique and powerful vision from St. Paul. It is Romans 8:31-39. This is one part of all of St. Paul's writings that would be could to write out or type out and keep folded (and read on occasion or in moments of need) in wallet or purse.
Paul reminds us of love that cannot fail - the love of God for each of you and me and for every human being born into this world, born on this planet earth. Consider for just a moment or two before you proceed reading these opening words of these verses: If God is for us, who can be against us?
Paul knew of the dangers that existed and would continue to exist for those who would profess their Christian faith, their adherance to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church he established among and through the apostles. He realized that martyrdom would become a part of the lives of those who stand firm in following the Son of God. Likewise he understood that the life and in particular the sufferings and death of Jesus, humankind is given further assurances that God loves the humanity he has created. Do you want to know how much God loves you and me and all humanity? There is an answer not it in words but rather in a visual aid we can have before us wherever we might be: a crucifix. It is a reminder that God's love for us, regardless of our messy lives with its sins and failures, that the graces of the cross will forever be present.
The world today is suffering not just in conflicts and battles, unending injustice, and class dislikes. At the same time, so it seems, there is a loss in humanity of the love of God ... not God's love for us but our fidelity and loyalty to the God who forever loves us.
Paul is keenly aware of suffering. He cites words from King David's Psalm 44: "For your sake we are being massacred all day long, treated as sheep to be slaughtered." Suffering is nothing new for the faithful Christian. For centuries, since the days of St. Paul and his apostle colleagues, have been told that suffering is a hallmark of the Jesus communities. Without any doubt it is suffering that perfects the Christian man and woman.
So, in our contemporaneous struggles, especially in the frustration with national governments, in the struggle to end injustices, in the battles to regain financial stability, in efforts to restore employment to so many millions who have lost jobs, it is words like these in today's readings that should remind us that God is there for those in need, for those suffering not matter who we are or where we are. Let this particular part of Paul's Letter to the Romans become a source of comfort and an encouragement in need.
Due to a scheduled commitment that will require my presence beginning this evening and continuing until Sunday, I will not be able to prepare a reflection for Friday and Saturday of this week. May I suggest you use the link in the first sentence to the audio readings for those two days. Please remember me in your prayers as I fulfill my obligations to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in conducting the orientation program for its new investees.