Today's reading from the Letter to the Romans is another which is quoted often and which is particularly meaningful for people who suffer from chronic illness or disability. What will separate us from the love of Christ?, St. Paul asks. (Romans 8:35a)
Of course, the issues that were facing the Roman Christian community were different than the issues that we face as members of CUSA. The Roman community was well aware of what was coming from the empire: anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and the sword were but a few of the things that the Roman community was facing. We know from history that the last of these, the sword, would have been merciful. The "games," as they were euphemistically called, pitted the Christian community against savage beast, crucifixion, burning at the stake, and all manner of torture. Who wouldn't be concerned. St. Paul boldly states that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ.
The era of the martyrs has disappeared for the most part in the Western World. However, the news brings us daily accounts of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and in other Eastern countries of the world. Martyrdom is not a thing of the past. So today's reading has literal meaning for many Christians.
However, for most of us, we are looking at other issues which could challenge the bravest soul. Name the threat, and it could be listed among the things that St. Paul maintains will not separate us from the love of Christ. Chronic illness, disability, loss of income, isolation, discouragement, depression, mental illness, birth defects, the burden of years, family discord - you name it; none of these things can separate us from Christ's love. As St. Paul concludes: 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 (Romans 8:37-39).
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator