Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday word, 03 Nov 2007

30th Saturday of the Year (03 Nov 2007) Rm 11. 1-2,11-12,25-29; Ps 94; Lk 14. 1, 7-11
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More Than Human Vision

At the beginning of his Letter to the Romans St. Paul announced that the good news is the power of salvation for all who have faith./1/ He was specific: the shape of faith is the faith of Jesus/2/, who called God his dear Father. Convinced, too, was St. Paul, that God shows no paritiality/3/ in saving faithful people.

St. Paul, trained in torah and the traditions of his people, was in a bind: has God rejected his people? He began to unfold the implications of both the universality of faith and the particular ways God works in human history, which in Paul’s moment meant for the Jew first then the Greek./4/

God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew, we heard him begin. How did St. Paul know that? He reread the promises to know more clearly how the messiah entered the world. The lectionary didn’t allow us hear some clues St. Paul found for the messiah and God’s fidelity.

To appreciate St. Paul’s objective, we need to hear that messiah was unique to Jews in the Mediterranean world of St. Paul. Loss and restoration and their hope in that pattern no one else shared. This hope plus his own personal encounter with risen Jesus led St. Paul to see with religious vision beyond individuals and beneath borders, namely, that Jews are Israel in part and when the full number of the Gentiles comes in...all Israel will be saved.

St. Paul continued to elaborate on the way God extended the gift of salvation in Jesus by their Spirit beginning through God’s beloved people--the Jews--extending salvation by means of faith to all. That has two implications for us now.

First, it means to be alert to God’s Holy Spirit praying in and for us and working for our good/5/, that is, our salvation. Second, it means asking Holy Spirit to grace our vision in order to see what human vision cannot. That is our vocation as faithful disciples of our Messiah.

/1/ Chapter 1.16.
/2/ Chapter 3. Usually translated as
faith in Jesus. These translations here “fly in the face of grammatical and literary considerations [of the Greek language], and they entirely miss the direction of Paul’s argument” (Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary. NY: Crossroad, p. 59.) I have been following my teacher throughout this series.
/3/ Chapter 2.11.
/4/ Chapter 1.16.
/5/ Chapter 8. 26-28.

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