Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday word, 17 Oct 2007

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Memorial (17 Oct 2007) Rm 2.1-11; Ps 62; Lk 11. 42-46
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Real and Powerful

St. Paul encouraged the church in Rome, to which he wrote before his visit, to keep in relationship with God, who worked salvation in Jesus by their Spirit. Not to do that rejects God and God’s salvation. Salvation is no private affair because, as St. Paul used the word, salvation means becoming part of God’s people.

Salvation is for us in ways Paul announced. First, God is merciful precisely because God know humans in all our frailty. To us God offers priceless kindness, forbearance and patience. God is no hanging judge. God is a loyal creator, and God saves because God knows sin and how to rescue us from it through Jesus.

St. Paul maintained no anger in God. Instead, making his point with an imaginary conversation partner, you are storing up wrath for your stubbornness and impenitent heart. Paul, who once murdered Christians, knew this firsthand, as he said in an earlier letter, I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God./1/ God’s mercy made him an apostle!

A social and behavioral implication of this is clear: do not judge. If a person seeks glory, honor, and immortality--in other words, lives a godly life--others will experience that search through that person’s perseverance in good works. Christian good works are not swayed by flattery, bribes or corruption. They are impartial. They participate in God’s life because no partiality exists in God.

This may sound trite, at best, or pious, at worst. I appreciated how distinctly divine it is when I learned that this word partiality did not exist in Greek before the New Testament. The human ideal of not being corrupted was projected onto God, the merciful, loving, loyal creator of all. That, too, has social and behavioral implications for friends of our Messiah Jesus.

If Jesus reveals God’s mercy, patience and desire to save, and if Jesus invites us join him, then, welcoming people and acting mercifully participate in divine life. They truly signify that we welcome becoming part of God’s people--salvation. Plus, they show others God’s mercy is very real and powerful to change lives.

/1/ 1Corinthians 15. 9.
Wiki-image of St. Ignatius of Antioch is in the public domain.

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