Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
A few years ago, we celebrated the Year of St. Paul on what would have been the approximate 2,000 birthday of this great saint. At that time, I asked CUSANS to tell me what their favorite passage was from the Letters of St. Paul. Today's first reading was cited by some of the respondents. St. Paul never seemed more confident in God's love than when he wrote the words we hear today. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus – bold words from the boldest of preachers.
However if we think back to the other things that St. Paul writes in the Letters to the Romans (which we have been reading for the past few weeks), it is a logical conclusion. St. Paul has maintained from the very beginning of the letter that we are justified, saved from our sins, by our faith in Jesus. If we cling to that faith, indeed nothing could possibly separate us from that love.
St. Paul cites some of the things that may intimidate the Christians of his day: anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or the sword. The list is fairly complete. For CUSANS, I might argue that we could add pain and frustration and isolation. Chronic illness or disability usually bring one or the other of these; to be sure they are all forms of anguish.
The Gospel reading seems to come at the same issue but from the other side of the argument. Jesus is scolding those who are trying to intimidate him with threats about Herod. Jesus goes on to say that Jerusalem will be "abandoned" by God because of their lack of faith in him. We know that St. Paul's Letter to the Romans was written before St. Luke's Gospel, yet the two of them are in agreement about this important notion. Faith in Jesus is the glue that makes our relationship with God unbreakable.