May 14, 2008 – Romans – Universality and Individuality
It [Romans] is the longest and most systematic unfolding of the apostle’s thought, expounding the Gospel of God’s righteousness that saves all who believe (1, 16-17); it reflects a universal outlook, with special implications for Israel’s relation to the church (chs 9-11). (NAB 1991, page 1208)
It seems to me that perhaps this letter, more than any others which we have from Paul, describes for us the love, care and providence which God has for all of us . . . and so it speaks to all . . . and it speaks to each.
It is difficult for us as humans to understand how God can love us all when we are all so different; yet it is this variety which I am convinced that God loves most about us. Otherwise, we would all be the same, and clearly we are not.
We best hear God’s voice when we all speak. We best see God when we are all present. We best act in and for God when we all act.
Paul tells us that: we are lost without the story of the Gospel; we are justified, saved through faith; we demonstrate this justification when we live a Christ life; we are all – gentile and Jew – in God’s plan; and we have duties as Christ people. We do well to live verse 15:7: Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.
We best praise and thank God by living the path he draws us along – The Way, The Truth, The Light, The Life, The Hope, The Joy that is God. As we heard yesterday, God cannot help sharing self. As the followers of this Way, we are also called to share self.
We are individuals; but we find ourselves best when we join with others – with those we love, and with those we do not love – to bring together the billions of people God has placed in his creation. Paul urges us to be open to God’s providence, open to possibility, open to a life we cannot begin to imagine.
Good and gracious God,
We are so slow to comprehend, to understand, to believe. Continue to abide with us as we wend our way to you.
We are so frightened, so worried, so anxious to be free. Continue to provide us with windows to your mercy and compassion.
We are so joyful when we find serenity in you. Continue to call us to our mission with and for you.
We are so diverse . . . yet so alike in our yearning to be at peace . . . and to be one. Continue to mold us into your magnificent work of art which we call humanity.
Lead us through your plan, for in this we are justified.
Send us the gift of faith, for in this we are born again.
Fill us with your hope, for with this we find the courage to fulfill the work which is ours.
Encompass us in your love, for in this we truly come to life.
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