Monday, March 31, 2008
(Rm 11, 16-24) The kindness and severity of God
 If the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree,  do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you.  Indeed you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."  That is so. They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith. So do not become haughty, but stand in awe.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, (perhaps) he will not spare you either.  See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God's kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.  And they also, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated one, how much more will they who belong to it by nature be grafted back into their own olive tree.
(CCC 755) "The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing (LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5). (CCC 60) The people descended from Abraham would be the trustees of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all his children into the unity of the Church (Cf. Rom 11:28; Jn 11:52; 10:16). They would be the root on to which the Gentiles would be grafted, once they came to believe (Cf. Rom 11:17-18, 24).
Etichette: root holy branches olive shoot tree broken unbelief faith kindness wild cultivated nature
(Rm 11, 11-15) I am the apostle to the Gentiles
 Hence I ask, did they stumble so as to fall? Of course not! But through their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make them jealous.  Now if their transgression is enrichment for the world, and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles, how much more their full number.  Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry  in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them.  For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
(CCC 674) The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus (Rom 11:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39). St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old" (Acts 3:19-21). St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" (Rom 11:15). The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles" (Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24), will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all" (Eph 4:13; 1 Cor 15:28).
Romans 11(Rm 11, 1-10) Has God rejected his people?
 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Of course not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?  "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life."  But what is God's response to him? "I have left for myself seven thousand men who have not knelt to Baal."  So also at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.  But if by grace, it is no longer because of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.  What then? What Israel was seeking it did not attain, but the elect attained it; the rest were hardened,  as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of deep sleep, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day."  And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them;  let their eyes grow dim so that they may not see, and keep their backs bent forever."
(CCC 218) In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love (Cf. Deut 4:37; 7:8; 10:15). And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins (Cf. Isa 43:1-7; Hos 2). (CCC 219) God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother's for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son"(Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Isa 49:14-15; 62 :4-5; Ezek 16; Hos 11). (CCC 220) God's love is "everlasting" (Isa 54:8): "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you" (Isa 54: 10; cf. 54:8). Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you" (Jer 31:3).
Sunday, March 30, 2008
(Rm 10, 18-21) Their words to the ends of the world
 But I ask, did they not hear? Certainly they did; for "Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."  But I ask, did not Israel understand? First Moses says: "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a senseless nation I will make you angry."  Then Isaiah speaks boldly and says: "I was found (by) those who were not seeking me; I revealed myself to those who were not asking for me."  But regarding Israel he says, "All day long I stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contentious people."
(CCC 143) By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God (Cf. DV 5). With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith" (Cf. Rom 1:5; 16:26). (CCC 144) To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to "hear or listen to") in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment. (CCC 145) The Letter to the Hebrews, in its great eulogy of the faith of Israel's ancestors, lays special emphasis on Abraham's faith: "By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go" (Heb 11:8; cf. Gen 12:1-4). By faith, he lived as a stranger and pilgrim in the promised land (Cf. Gen 23:4). By faith, Sarah was given to conceive the son of the promise. And by faith Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice (Cf. Heb 11:17). (CCC 148) The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word" (Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14). Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45). It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed (Cf. Lk 1:48). (CCC 149) Throughout her life and until her last ordeal (Cf. Lk 2:35) when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfilment of God's word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.
(Rm 10, 13-17) Faith comes from what is heard
 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring (the) good news!"  But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?"  Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
(CCC 2738) The revelation of prayer in the economy of salvation teaches us that faith rests on God's action in history. Our filial trust is enkindled by his supreme act: the Passion and Resurrection of his Son. Christian prayer is cooperation with his providence, his plan of love for men. (CCC 2739) For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son (Cf. Rom 10:12-13; 8:26-39). Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition. (CCC 1122) Christ sent his apostles so that "repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations" (Lk 24:47). "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19). The mission to baptize, and so the sacramental mission, is implied in the mission to evangelize, because the sacrament is prepared for by the word of God and by the faith which is assent to this word: The People of God is formed into one in the first place by the Word of the living God.... The preaching of the Word is required for the sacramental ministry itself, since the sacraments are sacraments of faith, drawing their origin and nourishment from the Word (PO 4 §§ 1, 2).
(Rm 10, 5-12) The word is near you
 Moses writes about the righteousness that comes from (the) law, "The one who does these things will live by them."  But the righteousness that comes from faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will go up into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down)  or 'Who will go down into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)."  But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we preach),  for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.  For the scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame."  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him.
(CCC 432) The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation (Cf. Jn 3:18; Acts 2:21; 5:41; 3 Jn 7; Rom 10:6-13), so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12; cf. 9:14; Jas 2:7). (CCC 449) By attributing to Jesus the divine title "Lord", the first confessions of the Church's faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honour and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because "he was in the form of God" (Cf. Acts 2:34 - 36; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Rev 5:13; Phil 2:6), and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory (Cf. Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:9-11). (CCC 14) Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men. (Mt 10:32; Rom 10:9) First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God. The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church. (CCC 187) Such syntheses are called "professions of faith" since they summarize the faith that Christians profess. They are called "creeds" on account of what is usually their first word in Latin: credo ("I believe"). They are also called "symbols of faith".
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Romans 10(Rm 10, 1-4) Christ is the end of the law
 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God on their behalf is for salvation.  I testify with regard to them that they have zeal for God, but it is not discerning.  For, in their unawareness of the righteousness that comes from God and their attempt to establish their own (righteousness), they did not submit to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for the justification of everyone who has faith.
(CCC 1977) Christ is the end of the law (cf. Rom 10:4); only he teaches and bestows the justice of God. (CCC 1953) The moral law finds its fullness and its unity in Christ. Jesus Christ is in person the way of perfection. He is the end of the law, for only he teaches and bestows the justice of God: "For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified" (Rom 10:4). (CCC 1985) The New Law is a law of love, a law of grace, a law of freedom. (CCC 1983) The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit received by faith in Christ, operating through charity. It finds expression above all in the Lord's Sermon on the Mount and uses the sacraments to communicate grace to us. (CCC 1984) The Law of the Gospel fulfills and surpasses the Old Law and brings it to perfection: its promises, through the Beatitudes of the Kingdom of heaven; its commandments, by reforming the heart, the root of human acts.
(Rm 9, 25-33) I will call ‘my people’, I will call ‘beloved’
 As indeed he says in Hosea: "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'  And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they shall be called children of the living God."  And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the Israelites were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant will be saved;  for decisively and quickly will the Lord execute sentence upon the earth."  And as Isaiah predicted: "Unless the Lord of hosts had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom and have been made like Gomorrah."  What then shall we say? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have achieved it, that is, righteousness that comes from faith;  but that Israel, who pursued the law of righteousness, did not attain to that law?  Why not? Because they did it not by faith, but as if it could be done by works. They stumbled over the stone that causes stumbling,  as it is written: "Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion that will make people stumble and a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him shall not be put to shame."
(CCC 1953) The moral law finds its fullness and its unity in Christ. Jesus Christ is in person the way of perfection. He is the end of the law, for only he teaches and bestows the justice of God: "For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified" (Rom 10:4). (CCC 1990) Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals. (CCC 1991) Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us. (CCC 1993) Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent: When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight (Council of Trent (1547): DS 1525).
(Rm 9, 19-24) Who can oppose his will?
 You will say to me then, "Why (then) does he still find fault? For who can oppose his will?"  But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is made say to its maker,"Why have you created me so?"  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for a noble purpose and another for an ignoble one?  What if God, wishing to show his wrath and make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction?  This was to make known the riches of his glory to the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared previously for glory,  namely, us whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.
(CCC 2822) Our Father "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:3-4). He "is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish" (2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14). His commandment is "that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37). This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will. (CCC 2823) "He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ... to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will" (Eph 1:9-11). We ask insistently for this loving plan to be fully realized on earth as it is already in heaven.
Friday, March 28, 2008
(Rm 9, 14-18) I will show mercy to whom I will
 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on the part of God? Of course not!  For he says to Moses: "I will show mercy to whom I will, I will take pity on whom I will."  So it depends not upon a person's will or exertion, but upon God, who shows mercy.  For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "This is why I have raised you up, to show my power through you that my name may be proclaimed throughout the earth."  Consequently, he has mercy upon whom he wills, and he hardens whom he wills.
(CCC 270) God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light on one another: God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes care of our needs; by the filial adoption that he gives us ("I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty") (2 Cor 6:18; cf. Mt 6:32): finally by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height by freely forgiving sins. (CCC 271) God's almighty power is in no way arbitrary: "In God, power, essence, will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical. Nothing therefore can be in God's power which could not be in his just will or his wise intellect" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 25, 5, ad I).
(Rm 9, 6-13) God's elective plan might continue
 But it is not that the word of God has failed. For not all who are of Israel are Israel,  nor are they all children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but "It is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name."  This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants.  For this is the wording of the promise, "About this time I shall return and Sarah will have a son."  And not only that, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one husband, our father Isaac –  before they had yet been born or had done anything, good or bad, in order that God's elective plan might continue,  not by works but by his call - she was told, "The older shall serve the younger."  As it is written: "I loved Jacob but hated Esau."
(CCC 60) The people descended from Abraham would be the trustees of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all his children into the unity of the Church (Cf. Rom 11:28; Jn 11:52; 10:16). They would be the root on to which the Gentiles would be grafted, once they came to believe (Cf. Rom 11:17-18, 24). (CCC 705) Disfigured by sin and death, man remains "in the image of God," in the image of the Son, but is deprived "of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23) of his "likeness." The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that "image" (Cf. Jn 1:14; Phil 2:7) and restore it in the Father's "likeness" by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is "the giver of life." (CCC 706) Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit (Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21). In Abraham's progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself (Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16), in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (Cf. In 11:52). God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and "the promised Holy Spirit… [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it" (Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14).
Romans 9(Rm 9, 1-5) God who is over all be blessed forever
 I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the holy Spirit in bearing me witness  that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh.  They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;  theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever. Amen.
(CCC 839) "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways" (LG 16). The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People (Cf. NA 4), "the first to hear the Word of God" (Roman Missal, Good Friday 13: General Intercessions, VI). The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ" (Rom 9:4-5), "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" (Rom 11:29). (CCC 840) And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
(Rm 8, 37-39) To separate us from the love of God
 No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(CCC 257) "O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!" (LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer). God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the "plan of his loving kindness", conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: "He destined us in love to be his sons" and "to be conformed to the image of his Son", through "the spirit of sonship" (Eph 1:4-5, 9; Rom 8:15, 29). This plan is a "grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began", stemming immediately from Trinitarian love (2 Tim 1:9-10). It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church (Cf. AG 2-9). (CCC 736) By this power of the Spirit, God's children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear "the fruit of the Spirit:… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22-23). "We live by the Spirit"; the more we renounce ourselves, the more we "walk by the Spirit" (Gal 5:25; cf. Mt 16:24-26). Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God "Father" and to share in Christ's grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory (St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 15, 36: PG 32, 132). (CCC 735) He, then, gives us the "pledge" or "first fruits" of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as "God [has] loved us" (1 Jn 4:11-12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21). This love (the "charity" of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received "power" from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; cf. 1 Cor 13).
(Rm 8, 32-36) It is God who acquits us
 He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?  Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us.  Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.  What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?  As it is written: "For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered."
(CCC 1741) Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. "For freedom Christ has set us free" (Gal 5: 1). In him we have communion with the "truth that makes us free" (Cf. In 8:32). The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). Already we glory in the "liberty of the children of God" (Rom 8:21). (CCC 381) Man is predestined to reproduce the image of God's Son made man, the "image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), so that Christ shall be the first-born of a multitude of brothers and sisters (cf. Eph 1:3-6; Rom 8:29). (CCC 2013) "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity" (LG 40 § 2). All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ's gift, so that… Doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints (LG 40 § 2).
(Rm 8, 28-31) Those he justified he also glorified
 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.  What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(CCC 381) Man is predestined to reproduce the image of God's Son made man, the "image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), so that Christ shall be the first-born of a multitude of brothers and sisters (cf. Eph 1:3-6; Rom 8:29). (CCC 313) "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him" (Rom 8:28). The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth: St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind" (St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue on Providence, ch. IV, 138). St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best" [The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, ed. Elizabeth F. Rogers (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), letter 206, lines 661-663]. Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith... And that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time - that 'all manner [of) thing shall be well'" (Julian of Norwich, The Revelations of Divine Love, tr. James Walshe SJ (London: 1961), ch. 32, 99-100). (CCC 314) We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face" (1 Cor 13:12), will we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil and sin - God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest (Cf. Gen 2:2) for which he created heaven and earth.
(Rm 8, 26-27) The Spirit intercedes for the holy ones
 In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.  And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.
(CCC 741) "The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words" (Rom 8:26). The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God's works, is the master of prayer. (CCC 2735) In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (CCC 2736) Are we convinced that "we do not know how to pray as we ought"? (Rom 8:26). Are we asking God for "what is good for us"? Our Father knows what we need before we ask him (Cf. Mt 6:8), but he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able truly to know what he wants (Cf. Rom 8:27). (CCC 2737) "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions" (Jas 4:3; cf. the whole context: Jas 4:1-10; 1:5-8; 5:16). If we ask with a divided heart, we are "adulterers" (Jas 4:4); God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. "Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?'" (Jas 4:5). That our God is "jealous" for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard. Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer (Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione 34: PG 79, 1173). God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give (St. Augustine, Ep. 130, 8, 17: PL 33, 500).
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
(Rm 8, 24-25) For in hope we were saved
 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
(CCC 1817) Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23). "The Holy Spirit… he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:6-7). (CCC 1818) The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity. (CCC 2016) The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus (Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1576). Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2).
(Rm 8, 18-23) All creation is groaning in labor pains
 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.  For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God;  for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope  that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;  and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
(CCC 293) Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: "The world was made for the glory of God" (Dei Filius, can. § 5: DS 3025). St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things "not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it" (St. Bonaventure, In II Sent. I, 2, 2, 1), for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. 2, Prol.). The First Vatican Council explains: This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power", not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal…" (Dei Filius: DS 3002; cf. Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800). (CCC 294) The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us "to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace" (Eph 1:5-6), for "the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man's life is the vision of God: if God's revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word's manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God" (St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 20, 7: PG 7/1, 1037). The ultimate purpose of creation is that God "who is the creator of all things may at last become "all in all", thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude" (AG 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:28).
(Rm 8, 14-17) We are children of God, then heirs
 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!"  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
(CCC 1996) Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life (Cf. Jn 1:12-18; 17:3; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4). (CCC 1997) Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. (CCC 1265) Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature" (2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Gal 4:5-7), member of Christ and coheir with him (Cf. 1 Cor 6:15; 12:27; Rom 8:17), and a temple of the Holy Spirit (Cf. 1 Cor 6:19).
(Rm 8, 10-13) His Spirit that dwells in you
 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.  Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
(CCC 658) Christ, "the first-born from the dead" (Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf. Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf. Rom 8:11). (CCC 990) The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality (Cf. Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5; Isa 40:6). The "resurrection of the flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again (Rom 8:11).
Romans 8(Rm 8, 1-9) But you are not in the flesh
 Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death.  For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.  The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.  For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it;  and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
(CCC 691) "Holy Spirit" is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children (Cf. Mt 28:19). The term "Spirit" translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God's breath, the divine Spirit (Jn 3:5-8). On the other hand, "Spirit" and "Holy" are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms "spirit" and "holy." (CCC 693) Besides the proper name of "Holy Spirit," which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise (Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13), the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6), the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9), the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:17), and the Spirit of God (Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40), - and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory (1 Pet 4:14).
(Rm 7, 14-25) When I want to do right, evil is at hand
 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin.  What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.  Now if (I) do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.  For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,  but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin.
(CCC 405) Although it is proper to each individual (Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513), original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. (CCC 408) The consequences of original sin and of all men's personal sins put the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John's expression, "the sin of the world" (Jn 1:29). This expression can also refer to the negative influence exerted on people by communal situations and social structures that are the fruit of men's sins (Cf. John Paul II, RP 16). (CCC 1741) Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. "For freedom Christ has set us free" (Gal 5: 1). In him we have communion with the "truth that makes us free" (Cf. In 8:32). The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). Already we glory in the "liberty of the children of God" (Rom 8:21).
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
(Rm 7, 7-13) Apart from the law sin is dead
 What then can we say? That the law is sin? Of course not! Yet I did not know sin except through the law, and I did not know what it is to covet except that the law said, "You shall not covet."  But sin, finding an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetousness. Apart from the law sin is dead.  I once lived outside the law, but when the commandment came, sin became alive;  then I died, and the commandment that was for life turned out to be death for me.  For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it put me to death.  So then the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.  Did the good, then, become death for me? Of course not! Sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin, worked death in me through the good, so that sin might become sinful beyond measure through the commandment.
(CCC 2542) The Law entrusted to Israel never sufficed to justify those subject to it; it even became the instrument of "lust" (Cf. Rom 7:7). The gap between wanting and doing points to the conflict between God's Law which is the "law of my mind," and another law "making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members" (Rom 7:23; cf. 7:10). (CCC 1994) Justification is the most excellent work of God's love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that "the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth," because "heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect… will not pass away" (St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 72, 3: PL 35, 1823). He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.
Romans 7(Rm 7, 1-6) But now we are released from the law
 Are you unaware, brothers (for I am speaking to people who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over one as long as one lives?  Thus a married woman is bound by law to her living husband; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law in respect to her husband.  Consequently, while her husband is alive she will be called an adulteress if she consorts with another man. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and she is not an adulteress if she consorts with another man.  In the same way, my brothers, you also were put to death to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong to another, to the one who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For when we were in the flesh, our sinful passions, awakened by the law, worked in our members to bear fruit for death.  But now we are released from the law, dead to what held us captive, so that we may serve in the newness of the spirit and not under the obsolete letter.
(CCC 1963) According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good (Cf. Rom 7:12, 14, 16), yet still imperfect. Like a tutor (Cf. Gal 3:24) it shows what must be done, but does not of itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it. Because of sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a law of bondage. According to St. Paul, its special function is to denounce and disclose sin, which constitutes a "law of concupiscence" in the human heart (Cf. Rom 7). However, the Law remains the first stage on the way to the kingdom. It prepares and disposes the chosen people and each Christian for conversion and faith in the Savior God. It provides a teaching which endures for ever, like the Word of God.
(Rm 6, 20-23) The gift of God is eternal life in Christ
 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.  But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(CCC 1006) "It is in regard to death that man's condition is most shrouded in doubt" (GS 18). In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact "the wages of sin" (Rom 6:23; cf. Gen 2:17). For those who die in Christ's grace it is a participation in the death of the Lord, so that they can also share his Resurrection (Cf. Rom 6:3-9; Phil 3:10-11). (CCC 1010) Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). "The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him (2 Tim 2:11). What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ" sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act: It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek - who died for us. Him it is I desire - who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth.... Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom., 6, 1-2: Apostolic Fathers, II/2, 217-220).
Monday, March 24, 2008
(Rm 6, 15-19) As slaves to righteousness
 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not!  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.  Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.  I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature. For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawless ness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
(CCC 197) As on the day of our Baptism, when our whole life was entrusted to the "standard of teaching" (Rom 6:17), let us embrace the Creed of our life-giving faith. To say the Credo with faith is to enter into communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us and in whose midst we believe: “This Creed is the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul” (St. Ambrose, Expl. symb. I: PL 17, 1193). (CCC 1733) The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin" (Cf. Rom 6:17). (CCC 1995) The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man" (Cf. Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16), justification entails the sanctification of his whole being: Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.... But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life (Rom 6:19, 22).
(Rm 6, 7-14) Dead to sin and living for God in Christ
 For a dead person has been absolved from sin.  If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.  We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.  As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.  Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as (being) dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires.  And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness.  For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.
(CCC 537) Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and "walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4): Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 9: PG 36, 369). Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God (St. Hilary of Poitiers, In Matth. 2, 5: PL 9, 927). (CCC 977) Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk 16:15-16). Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that "we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4; cf. 4:25).
Romans 6(Rm 6, 1-6) We too might live in newness of life
 What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not!  How can we who died to sin yet live in it?  Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.  For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.  We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
(CCC 1214) This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature" (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Cf. Rom 6:34; Col 2:12). (CCC 1227) According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ's death, is buried with him, and rises with him: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4; cf. Col 2:12). The baptized have "put on Christ" (Gal 3:27). Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies (Cf. 1 Cor 6:11; 12:13). (CCC 1987) The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism (Rom 3:22; cf. 6:3-4): But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:8-11).
Sunday, March 23, 2008
(Rm 5, 21) Grace also might reign through Jesus
 So that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(CCC 412) But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away" (St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73, 4: PL 54, 396), and St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O happy fault,…which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'"(St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, I, 3, ad 3; cf. Rom 5:20). (CCC 420) The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us: "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom 5:20). (CCC 1848) As St. Paul affirms, "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom 5:20). But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us "righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 5:21). Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin: Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man's inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love: "Receive the Holy Spirit." Thus in this "convincing concerning sin" we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption. The Spirit of truth is the Consoler (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 31 § 2).
(Rm 5, 20) Grace overflowed all the more
 The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,
(CCC 312) In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God…. You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive" (Gen 45:8; 50:20; cf. Tob 2:12 (Vulg.). From the greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men - God, by his grace that "abounded all the more" (Cf. Rom 5:20), brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good. (CCC 385) God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine (St. Augustine, Conf. 7, 7, 11: PL 32, 739), and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For "the mystery of lawlessness" is clarified only in the light of the "mystery of our religion" (2 Thess 2:7; 1 Tim 3:16). The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace (Cf. Rom 5:20). We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror (Cf. Lk 11:21-22; Jn 16:11; 1 Jn 3:8).
(Rm 5, 19) Many will be made righteous
 For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.
(CCC 397) Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of (Cf. Gen 3:1-11; Rom 5:19). All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness. (CCC 532) Jesus' obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: "Not my will…" (Lk 22:42). The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed (Cf. Rom 5:19). (CCC 516) Christ's whole earthly life - his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking - is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father", and the Father can say: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" (Jn 14:9; Lk 9:35; cf. Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7, "my beloved Son"). Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father's will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest "God's love… among us" (Jn 4:9). (CCC 623) By his loving obedience to the Father, "unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfils the atoning mission (cf. Isa 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will "make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities" (Isa 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19). (CCC 410) After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall (Cf. Gen 3:9, 15). This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium ("first gospel"): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers. (CCC 411) The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the "New Adam" who, because he "became obedient unto death, even death on a cross", makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of Adam (Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22, 45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20). Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the "Proto-evangelium" as Mary, the mother of Christ, the "new Eve". Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ's victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life (Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573).
(Rm 5, 18) Acquittal and life came to all
 In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.
(CCC 388) With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story's ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Cf. Rom 5:12-21). We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to "convict the world concerning sin" (Jn 16:8), by revealing him who is its Redeemer. (CCC 402) All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned….” (Rom 5:12, 19). The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men" (Rom 5:18). (CCC 604) By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10; 4:19). God "shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8). (CCC 605) At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Mt 18:14). He affirms that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us (Mt 20:28; cf. Rom 5:18-19). The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer" (Council of Quiercy (853): DS 624; cf. 2 Cor 5:15; 1 Jn 2:2).
(Rm 5, 15-17) The gift is not like the transgression
 But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person's transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.  And the gift is not like the result of the one person's sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.  For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.
(CCC 602) Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers... with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake" (1 Pet 1:18-20). Man's sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death (Cf. Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:56). By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God "made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3). (CCC 612) The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father's hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani (Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20), making himself "obedient unto death". Jesus prays: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…" (Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8). Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death (Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15). Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the "Author of life", the "Living One" (Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26). By accepting in his human will that the Father's will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for "he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" (1 Pt 2:24; cf. Mt 26:42).
Saturday, March 22, 2008
(Rm 5, 12-14) Death reigned from Adam to Moses
 Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned –  for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.  But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.
(CCC 399) Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness (Cf. Rom 3:23). They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image--that of a God jealous of his prerogatives (Cf. Gen 3:5-10). (CCC 400) The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination (Cf. Gen 3:7-16). Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man(Cf. Gen 3:17, 19). Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay" (Rom 8:21). Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground"(Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17), for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history (Cf. Rom 5:12). (CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom 5:12, 19). The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men" (Rom 5:18). (CCC 1008) Death is a consequence of sin. The Church's Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man's sin (Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511). Even though man's nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin (Cf. Wis 2:23-24). "Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" is thus "the last enemy" of man left to be conquered (GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26).
Friday, March 21, 2008
(Rm 5, 6-11) We were still sinners Christ died for us
 For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.  Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.  How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.  Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life.  Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(CCC 604) By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10; 4:19). God "shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8). (CCC 603) Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned (Cf. Jn 8:46). But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34; Ps 22:2; cf. Jn 8:29). Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners, God "did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all", so that we might be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Rom 8:32; 5:10). (CCC 1825) Christ died out of love for us, while we were still "enemies" (Rom 5:10). The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself (Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45). The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: "charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor 13:4-7).
(Rm 5, 5a) The love of God has been poured out
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.
(CCC 733) "God is Love" (1 Jn 4:8,16) and love is his first gift, containing all others. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom 5:5).733 (CCC 368) The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one's being, where the person decides for or against God (Cf. Jer 31:33; Dt 6:5; 29:3; Isa 29:13; Ezek 36:26; Mt 6:21; Lk 8:15; Rom 5:5). (CCC 1964) The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel. "The Law is a pedagogy and a prophecy of things to come" (St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 15, 1: PG 7/1, 1012). It prophesies and presages the work of liberation from sin which will be fulfilled in Christ: it provides the New Testament with images, "types," and symbols for expressing the life according to the Spirit. Finally, the Law is completed by the teaching of the sapiential books and the prophets which set its course toward the New Covenant and the Kingdom of heaven. There were . . . under the regimen of the Old Covenant, people who possessed the charity and grace of the Holy Spirit and longed above all for the spiritual and eternal promises by which they were associated with the New Law. Conversely, there exist carnal men under the New Covenant still distanced from the perfection of the New Law: the fear of punishment and certain temporal promises have been necessary, even under the New Covenant, to incite them to virtuous works. In any case, even though the Old Law prescribed charity, it did not give the Holy Spirit, through whom "God's charity has been poured into our hearts" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 107, 1 ad 2; cf. Rom 5:5).
(Rm 5, 5a) Hope does not disappoint
[5a] and hope does not disappoint,
[5a] and hope does not disappoint,
(CCC 2658) "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom 5:5). Prayer, formed by the liturgical life, draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the Curé of Ars: I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally.... My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath (St. John Vianney, Prayer). (CCC 1820) Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint" (Rom 5:5). Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul… that enters… where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf" (Heb 6:19-20). Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: "Let us… put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation" (1 Thess 5:8). It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation" (Rom 12:12). Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire.
Romans 5(Rm 5, 1-4) We have been justified by faith
 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,  and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,
(CCC 2734) Filial trust is tested - it proves itself - in tribulation (Cf. Rom 5:3-5). The principal difficulty concerns the prayer of petition, for oneself or for others in intercession. Some even stop praying because they think their petition is not heard. Here two questions should be asked: Why do we think our petition has not been heard? How is our prayer heard, how is it "efficacious"? (CCC 2847) The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man (Cf. Lk. 8:13-15; Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; 2 Tim 3:12), and temptation, which leads to sin and death (Cf. Jas 1:14-15). We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a "delight to the eyes" and desirable (Cf. Gen 3:6), when in reality its fruit is death. God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings.... There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us (Origen, De orat. 29 PG 11, 544CD).
(Rm 4, 22-25) It was credited to him as righteousness
 That is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."  But it was not for him alone that it was written that "it was credited to him";  it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,  who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.
(CCC 517) Christ's whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross (Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 2 Pt 1:18-19), but this mystery is at work throughout Christ's entire life: - already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty (Cf. 2 Cor 8:9); - in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience (Cf. Lk 2:51); - in his word which purifies its hearers (Cf. Jn 15:3); - in his healings and exorcisms by which "he took our infirmities and bore our diseases" (Mt 8:17; cf. Isa 53:4); - and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us (Cf. Rom 4:25). (CCC 519) All Christ's riches "are for every individual and are everybody's property" (John Paul II, RH II). Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation "for us men and for our salvation" to his death "for our sins" and Resurrection "for our justification" (Cor 15:3; Rom 4:25). He is still "our advocate with the Father", who "always lives to make intercession" for us (1 Jn 2:1; Heb 7:25). He remains ever "in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us" (Heb 9:24).
(Rm 4, 19-21) He did not weaken in faith
 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as (already) dead (for he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah.  He did not doubt God's promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God  and was fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do.
(CCC 2572) As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, "who had received the promises" (Heb 11:17) is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham's faith does not weaken (“God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering."), for he "considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead" (Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19) and so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own Son but will deliver him up for us all (Rom 8:32). Prayer restores man to God's likeness and enables him to share in the power of God's love that saves the multitude (Cf. Rom 8:16-21).
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
(Rm 4, 18) He believed, hoping against hope
 He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "Thus shall your descendants be."
(CCC 706) Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit (Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21). In Abraham's progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself (Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16), in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (Cf. In 11:52). God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and "the promised Holy Spirit… [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it" (Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14). (CCC 165) It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who "in hope... believed against hope" (Rom 4:18); to the Virgin Mary, who, in "her pilgrimage of faith", walked into the "night of faith" (LG 58; John Paul II, RMat 18) in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death; and to so many others: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Heb 12:1-2). (CCC 1819) Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice (Cf. Gen 17:4-8; 22:1-18). "Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations" (Rom 4:18).
(Rm 4, 15-17) Those who follow the faith of Abraham
 For the law produces wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.  For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us,  as it is written, "I have made you father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist.
(CCC 298) Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart in them (Cf. Ps 51:12), and bodily life to the dead through the Resurrection. God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist" (Rom 4:17). And since God was able to make light shine in darkness by his Word, he can also give the light of faith to those who do not yet know him (Cf. Gen 1:3; 2 Cor 4:6).