Scripture Reading for Today: Romans 1:16-25 (read it here)
Paul begins this letter to the Romans by saying that he is proud of the Gospel that it is his privilege to preach. It is amazing to think of the background of that statement. Paul had been imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Berea, laughed at in Athens, and in Corinth his message was foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling-block to the Jews.
Now he states the main themes of his preaching—the foundation pillars of his thought and belief.
First, there is faith, which means loyalty. Faith is the enduring fidelity that marks the real soldier of Jesus Christ. Faith also means belief. It means the conviction that something is true. It is, therefore, the assent that the Christian message is true.
Faith is sometimes practically equivalent to indestructible hope. Above all, faith means total acceptance and absolute trust. It means betting your life that there is a loving God, being utterly sure that what Jesus said is true, and staking all time and eternity on that assurance.
Faith begins with receptivity. It begins when a person is at least willing to listen to the message of the truth. Then it goes on to mental assent. One first hears and then agrees that this is true. But mental assent many times does not issue in action. Many people know very well that something is true but do not change their actions to meet that knowledge.
The final stage of faith is when mental assent becomestotal surrender. In full-fledged faith, a person hears the Christian message, agrees that it is true, and then casts himself upon it in a life of total surrender.
Paul argues that all people have sinned. Instead of looking out to God, we look into ourselves. We involve ourselves in vain speculations and thoughts. We make our own ideas, opinions, and speculations the standard and law of life, instead of the will of God.
The folly of humanity consists in making “ourselves the masters of things.” We find our standards in our own opinions and not in the laws of God. In other words, we live in a self-centered instead of a God-centered universe. Instead of walking looking out to God, we walk looking into ourselves; and, like those who do not look where they are going, we fall.
For Paul, the result of this is idolatry. The glory of God is exchanged for images of human and animal forms. The root sin of idolatry is selfishness—a self-made god for self-made worship, needs, and dreams. In other words, we are face to face with the fact that the essence of sin is to put self in the place of God.
At the Eucharist we become aware that Christ must be at the center of our lives. It is in him that we find fulfillment.
Let us remove from our lives all that distracts us from Christ.
Inspired by Mary, let us also make of our lives a continuing hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
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Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.
Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC
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