The Bishops Homily – 17th Sunday In Ordinary Time

17th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle A | 30 July 2017
I Kgs. 3: 5-12
Rom. 8: 28-30
Mt. 13: 44-52

INTRODUCTION: Let us focus our reflection for today on our 2nd reading Rom. 8:28. “We know that all things work for good for those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”

(1) About This Letter: Romans is Paul’s greatest letter, one of the most spiritually powerful books in the entire Bible and one of the first great texts of Theology in the Christian tradition. No Christian should be unaware of what Paul wrote in this Letter in mid first century. Paul did not found the Church in Rome. Christians have established themselves in the Imperial City pretty early and Paul was very interested to visit that City which he did and where he in fact died in 64 AD. Paul wrote this Letter in Corinth in the late 50’s; it was delivered to a house church there. In those early days, people would gather for the Eucharist in someone’s home where Paul’s Letter would be read aloud. Romans represents the richest expression of the Apostle’s thought. He dictated the letter to a secretary and that accounts for its rumbling quality. Nevertheless, Romans is written in articulate argumentation style the reasoning of which deserves to be followed.

(2) The Content of the Letter: At the opening, he tells who he is “a slave of Christ Jesus” (1:1) to whom be belongs and why he writes to “preach the Gospel,” (1:15) the great victory that has been won. At the end of Rom. 1 and throughout Rom. 2, he lays out the problem SIN which we can’t solve on our own. We need a savior to get us out of the mess. Jews and Greeks alike know they are lost. In Rom. 3-6, Paul lays out the great solution, not a depressing message. Don’t rely on your own power. Jesus Christ has been given to us. The more we put our trust and confidence on him, the more we will be saved. God in his own mercy sent his only Son who paid the price for sin and has allowed us to enter into Communion with him and thus is “justified by faith.” (5:1) Does this mean that everything is fine? Not quite! Look at Rom. 7, there remains still, even among believers, a struggle against sin and every dysfunction. “I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (7:15) This is Paul before he met Christ. The struggle is not over yet after Christ died for us on the Cross. “Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” (7:24) Trust in him more and more in faithful confidence and you will find justification in faith! Where does this confidence come from? Rom. 8:11 answers it comes from the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead! That is the good news that Sin and Death have been principally conquered. The victory has been won, therefore, get into the Army! That is the full sense of Faith in Christ: “Trust in him!”

(3) Our Passage: Against this backdrop we are meant to read “We know that all things work for good for those who love him…” In Christ is disclosed God’s great providential plan whereby God intends to reconcile all things to himself. Is the world a messed-up place? Yes and no one knows that better than Paul! God hates Sin; he is not satisfied with the world! Because of the victory of Christ, “we know that all things work for good for those who love God.” (8:28) Those words always give me great comfort and peace! “If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . What will separate us from the love of Christ? … neither death, nor life, etc… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.” (8:31, 35, 39)

CONCLUSION: This is the central message of Paul’s Letter to the Romans; the central message of the Christian Faith itself!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches