FIFTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME JULY 12, 2020 ST AUSTIN, AUSTIN TX
Today I would like to focus on our second reading from the 8th chapter of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Paul, per usual, makes a pretty bold claim: “I consider the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” “I consider the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”
Paul is certainly bold and dramatic. Never boring. And always a little ambiguous.
Our translation renders Paul’s statement as “I consider the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” The old New American Bible, and the Greek study bible give Paul’s statement as “compared to the glory to be revealed in us.” And the NRSV puts it as “compared to the glory to be revealed to us.”
So take your pick: glory revealed for us, or in us, or to us? Maybe St Paul meant all of these, and doesn’t want to be pinned down on just one of any of these. I think Paul was a broad vision kind of guy.
In any case, what are the “sufferings of the present time” that we are experiencing? Well, isolation. Anyone here feeling a little isolated?
Also, fear, / boredom, / worry, / stress, / loneliness, / apathy,
restlessness, maybe some resentment, some envy, some self-pity? Any of you experiencing this?? I am.
We all know, all too well, the “sufferings of the present time”. But what about the glory to be revealed in us? That is somehow much harder to recognize, to identify, to see. But it is there in the glory of patience, of peace, of hope, of steadfastness, of concern for others, of generosity, of more patience, of good humor, of prayerfulness, of humility, of faithfulness, and of still more patience.
The glory to be revealed in us is happening day by day in ways that are not spectacular, showy, flash-bang riveting, but rather a glory that is simple, peaceful, often quiet, even ordinary and commonplace: but truly and fully glory none-the-less. This is our glory now, and later it will be revealed in us.
But then St Paul jumps to something that is not ordinary or common, but quite spectacular: he states: “For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, … in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.“
That is quite a bold, indeed mind-blowing, assertion. Paul is talking about all of creation. That means not only Austin and Texas and this planet we inhabit, nor only our solar system, nor only the millions and millions of stars and planets that make up our galaxy, but billions of galaxies with super-massive black holes, quasars, clumps of anti-matter, dark matter, dark energy, and God knows what else that we have not even so far dreamed of, all this, is longing to “share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.“ Talk about mind-boggling!
“We know,” St Paul states, “that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”
All creation is groaning in labor pains. What an evocative image! All of creation, all of evolution is a birthing process. Something is coming to birth in the Holy Spirit. And “we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for … the redemption of our bodies.”
// St. Paul in this beautiful and powerful passage that we have as our readings today, takes our rather dull and hum-drum daily experience and inflates it into this cosmic vision of God’s plan to redeem all of creation, all of everything. Wow!
And that is why he can assure us: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.”