Thursday, October 27, 2011

Today's Liturgy of the Word: best read backwards

If you read today's Gospel first, and then the piece from St. Paul to the Romans, it is as if Paul is commenting specifically on that Gospel! I'm always blown away when that happens, because the Lectionary was not planned out that way: the readings more or less follow in order in their own little cycle. But here it is again...
In the Gospel, Jesus is warned to escape before Herod kills him. He dismisses the threat, giving his would-be saviors a message to bring back to the King.  Paul, for his part, lists all the frightful obstacles to human flourishing (anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, death: things Paul faced on a rather regular basis in his ministry), and tosses them off with a rhetorical flourish: "If God is for us, who can be against us? Who will condemn us? What will separate us from the love of Christ?"
It's that very love of Christ that the Gospel shows us in Jesus' heartrending complaint against the Holy City: "How often I wanted to gather your children together as a mother hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings, and you refused me!"
 And St. Paul reminds us, encouragingly, "If God 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?"

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