Today’s reading from the Letter to the Romans takes one of the rabbinic sayings with which St. Paul must have been familiar as the basis for his argument. The rabbis taught that “What is written of Abraham is also written for his children.”
Building upon the notion that Abraham’s faith in God was credited to him as righteousness, St. Paul adds: it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. . .“
In both Abraham’s case and in our case, we place our faith in the fact that “what God has promised, God is able to do.” Abraham believed that he could still have a child because God promised that he would be the father of nations. We believe that Jesus has risen from the dead. In both instances, that which no one human person can do, God accomplishes what God has promised.
A story is told of Saint Teresa of Avila set out to build a convent with a sum of twelve pennies as her resources. Someone said to her, “Not even Sister Teresa can accomplish much with twelve pennies.” “True,” she replied, “but Sister Teresa and twelve pennies and God can do anything.”
Such stories abound in our history. One of my favorite passages in the Scriptures is the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews which lists people who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword. Out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders. Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, and tormented. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth.
The resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise and has moved people down through the ages to accomplish great deeds of faith. Blessed are those who have heard and who have believed. It is, as it was for Abraham, credited to them as righteousness.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator