October is known as the Month of the Holy Rosary. This tradition was promoted by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. She wanted everybody to pray the Rosary for peace. At the time when the three children saw the Blessed Virgin, World War I, also known as the Great War, was in full swing. Our Lady predicted the end of the war through people praying the Rosary. She said that the Rosary had the power to end wars. But she did not just predict that the Great War would end, she said that it would end soon, but if the people did not repent, there would be an even more devastating world war to follow. Continue reading
Paul makes what seems to be an odd comparison with the law of God and the laws of marriage. Again, there is a logic to Paul’s thinking that is different than how we would think or make a comparison.
He starts off writing about how a woman is bound by the law to remain chaste with other men because of the laws of marriage, but when her husband dies, she is free to be courted by another man. While she is married, she is bound by the laws of marriage to remain faithful, but when ‘death do us part’ comes along, as is implicated in the vows of marriage, the law is no longer imposed on her. (So her husband is now dead to her, for he in fact is dead physically) In a similar way, when we die to sin, sin becomes dead to us. Since sin is now dead and we no longer have to obey the laws of sin, we are now free to live for God. When we are baptized, that is the moment in our lives when we are supposed to live our life for Jesus. The old life of sin is symbolized in the husband that died and Jesus is the new husband for whom we are now living. This is what is supposed to happen, but many times we want the old husband back, preferring the one who is bad for us and forsaking the good husband who is Jesus. Sin should be dead to us, not even a desire. Continue reading
In Chapter Six, Paul poses the dilemma of sin and its effects, and living righteously and its effects. Right before this chapter, Paul says that grace abounds all the more when sin is present. He knows some people might want to take the easy way out and say, “then it is ok to sin, because grace just keeps coming and makes my bad actions null and void. I can do anything I want.” Not. Paul refutes this thought by stating, “What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may bound all the more? Of course not!” (v1). When we follow Jesus, sin itself should be dead in our hearts and, therefore, should not even be a desire. This happens when we consider sin as dead. It has no life and brings no life. It takes a certain dying to self, because some of our sins we like too much. We all have our attachments to things or actions we take. Continue reading
Chapter Four of the Letter to the Romans deals with the issue of circumcision, one of the main issues of the letter. Paul is likening works with the flesh, the law, and therefore, condemnation, while faith is spiritual and deals with justification, righteousness and ultimately salvation. Continue reading
From last weeks bulletin.
Paul begins with verse 17 of chapter 2 to warn those who are the official teachers of the Law and God’s ways. He does not say that they have no authority to do so, or that their sins make null and void their authority. But he does say, for it is written Because of you the name of God is reviled among the Gentiles (v24). So there is a very real judgement they will incur. Jesus is the good shepherd and is there to take care of the sheep, not be friends of the hired help (Jn 10:11-18). So Jesus makes a commitment to love His sheep. If the hired help does not do their part, there will be justice exacted on them. To avoid this judgement, verses 21-23 gives a brief examination of conscience by which to judge themselves and keep them honest.
Circumcision, to be sure has value, says Paul (v25); not what many expect him to say. The Old Law of circumcision is still in effect, but there is also a warning with it. That warning is that the law is in effect and the blessing and curse are still fully valid (Dt 11:26). We want the blessing, not the curse. That is why Paul warns of not getting circumcision. If you live the law, then fine and good. But Paul explains that the circumcision of the heart is just as much a blessing. Jesus will bless and fulfill every promise of circumcision as if they were physically circumcised. This is the graciousness of God. Continue reading
Paul is setting the context of this letter from the outset. Verse one states, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” Paul refers to himself as to be a slave. It is believed that he is in chains as one is bound as a slave. He is set to go to court in Rome while being accused of wrongdoing by the Jewish leaders of the time. It seems to be early in his bondage. Though human hands have bound him with the intent for death, Paul really does consider himself to be a slave to Christ Jesus. But this bondage is a path to freedom. He actually rejoices in this bondage. It is an opportunity to glorify God.
Verse two talks of how the Old Testament prophesied about the coming of Jesus. It states, “Which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy scriptures.” The Old Testament is considered to be the word of God known as Sacred Scripture. Paul is not referring to what he is writing is going to write. The New Testament has not yet been put together. In fact, it is still being written out, as is the case for the letter to the Romans. So the Old Testament is held very dear to the early Christians. Those Sacred Scriptures point to Jesus as the Messiah that is long waited for by the prophets.
Verse three continues to bring clarity that the gospel is about Jesus. Verse three states, “the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh” and verse four continues, “but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” So Paul is establishing Jesus as a descendant of David in verse three as does the beginning of Matthew and Luke. It seems that Jesus has mere human origin, but in verse four, he states that there is more about this man Jesus than what appears to be. He is also a descendant of God. He comes to know this through the spirit of holiness and the fact that this Jesus rose from the dead.
Did you notice how it is worded about the Resurrection? Paul did not say “and about His resurrection from the dead.” No. It states, “through resurrection from the dead.” He does not limit the Resurrection to Jesus. Already, Paul is allowing for the reality of the promise that Jesus has made us of our resurrection. He is very aware of our eternal life, not just spiritually, but physically.
Verse 6, Paul recognizes that all the faithful are called to “belong to Jesus.” Paul realizes that the love of God is not his alone. He knows that it is for us too. In fact, he desires us to know of God’s love for us and really experience it in our lives. That is why he is writing this letter, so that others may know of the gospel message. The gospel message at this point in time is spoken. Some has been written, but not all of it as yet. So when Paul writes in the New Testament about the “gospel,” he is referring to the message of Jesus, His death and Resurrection, and His promise of Eternal Life.
The Romans by this time have already heard this message, but Paul wants to remind the people of this promise because it is the source of strength the Romans needed to persevere through all the hard times they had to endure. We need to hear this message too. That is why it is good to read the letter to the Romans. It can be an inspiration of faith and hope in the promise Jesus has given us. But do you understand what that promise is or even why it is so important? If we do not understand that, then the gospel message will mean nothing and we will remain in bondage and sin. Have you been freed from bondage and sin?
The letters of the New Testament are not put in chronological order. The Letter to the Romans was written by Paul much later in his life and ministries. It was one of the last letters he wrote. His teaching is much more developed than most of his writings. It is believed to have been written between the years 56 and 58. He was on his way to Rome as a prisoner. Reading up on Paul’s time coming to Rome and while he is in Rome, Paul seems to have plans to get out to Spain to evangelize there, though there is no evidence that he actually made it to Spain. Continue reading