Scripture Reading for Today: Romans 2:1-11 (read it here)
The Jews thought that they occupied a privileged position with God; and never for a moment did they dream that they too were under God’s condemnation.
Paul points out that they are just as much sinners as the Gentiles are. In fact, their failures are inexcusable, because they did not listen to the warning of the prophets; and God will judge people not on their racial heritage, but by the kind of life that they led.
To meet this situation Paul describes how God dealt with the Jews.
First, there is the “priceless kindness of God,” which indicates goodness and loving gentleness. So, Paul says in effect, “You Jews are simply trying to take advantage of the great kindness of God.”
Then there is “forbearance.” This is the word for a truce; that is, agreeing to stop hostilities. Paul, in effect, is saying: You think that you are safe because God’s judgment has not yet descended upon you. But what God is giving you is not blank permission to sin but the opportunity to repent and amend your ways. In other words, we cannot sin forever with impunity.
Paul also speaks of “patience.” Chrysostom defined “patience” as the characteristic of the person who has it in his power to avenge himself and deliberately does not use it. Paul, in effect, is saying: Do not think that the fact that God does not punish you is a sign that he cannot punish you. The fact that his punishment does not immediately follow sin is not proof of his powerlessness; it is proof of his patience; and we owe our lives to the patience of God.
Paul tells his Jewish readers that they were taking the mercy of God as an invitation to sin rather than as an incentive to repentance. Even in human terms we know that it is one of the most shameful things in the world to use a person’s goodness as an excuse to go on offending him.
In other words, the mercy and love of God are not meant to make us feel that we can do whatever pleases us and get away with it; but they are meant to break our hearts so we will seek never to separate ourselves from him again.
Paul insists that a faith that does not issue in deeds is not faith at all, nor can there be works that are not the product of faith.
It is in Christ’s coming among us in the Eucharist that we see the kindness, forbearance, and patience of God.
Let us extend to others the goodness and forgiveness we have received from the Lord.
Led by Mary, let us also seek the approval of God by our life of holiness.
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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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