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(Part 64)


October 31, 2013
Today’s reading: Romans 8:31-39

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31b). Practically everyone? There are the atheists, the secular humanists, the modernists, the reproductive health crowd, the homosexualists, the liberal Catholics (the enemy within), the radical Islamists, the pornographers. There are the antagonistic parish priests, the unwelcoming parish leaders, the dissident community leaders, the disaffected community members. There are the powerful forces of the US government under Obama, the European Union, elements of the United Nations, billionaire philanthropists, giant Planned Parenthood, international liberal media. If we are for God and if God is for us, using us for His work, then we can expect to be opposed by practically the whole world!

But that is OK if God is on our side. That is normal and expected if we are on the side of God. Even as “we are being slain all the day” and “are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered” (Rom 8:36), still, “we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” (Rom 8:37). Against such overwhelming forces, we are the ones who conquer overwhelmingly.

God is the all-powerful Creator, the Omnipotent Being. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, who reigns over all. No one and nothing can withstand the power of God the Most High. So indeed if God is for us, who can be against us? Who can overwhelm or overpower us? Who can come against us and prevail? No one!

But God’s ways are mysterious. Death is life. Sorrow is joy. Weakness is power. The last is first. Pain is gain. In order to win for us our salvation, God did not come in power but in weakness. God “did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all” (Rom 8:32a). But Jesus’ death (and resurrection) has brought us life. Now we are to proclaim that life in Christ, that salvation won on the cross. And despite the tremendous opposing forces in the world, these are not to block our work.

The Father gave His Son Jesus, so “how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:32b). God gave up the most precious one of all, His very own Son. Will God then withhold the less precious gifts, which are everything else? So if we are to proclaim that Son, and the love of God manifested in that sacrifice, then we can expect all-out support from Him who sends us forth. We need never fear, because God is for us.

The worldly forces “will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones” (Rom 8:33a). Secular humanists will charge us with imposing our faith or religion on them. Homosexualists will charge faithful Christians who follow their consciences with discrimination and bigotry. Courts will charge pro-lifers demonstrating peacefully at abortion clinics. And Christians will be convicted! But it matters not, for “it is God who acquits us.” (Rom 8:33b).

The worldly forces “will condemn” us (Rom 8:34a). There is growing intense persecution of Christians, whether in the Middle East at the hands of radical Islamists, or in the west at the hands of liberal and secularist governments. Christians are falsely accused and condemned by sharia courts of blaspheming Allah or the Koran. Elderly pro-lifers are condemned to prison terms. Homeschooling parents are condemned and separated from their children. But we always look to Jesus, who himself was unjustly condemned and killed. “It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.” (Rom 8:34b). We look to him for strength to endure, and even rejoice in sharing his suffering, knowing that if we persevere, we would also sit with him at the right hand of God.

The worldly forces will try to “separate us from the love of Christ” (Rom 8:35a). This is by causing negatives to come our way, such as “anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword” (Rom 8:35b). We will be tempted to give up on Jesus and turn to the world for relief, to give up on our divine work and turn to personal human pursuits, to look not to our eternal reward in heaven but to secular rewards in this world. But these will not happen unless we allow it. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, if we persevere in our work despite difficulties and pain, if we fully trust in the God who has already won for us our salvation, then “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.” (Rom 8:38-39).

“What then shall we say to this?” (Rom 8:31a). We can only say: Amen and amen!

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