Scripture: 1st Reading: Rom1,1-7; Resp. Psalm: Ps98,1-4; Gosp. Accl.: Ps95,7-8; Gospel: Lk11,29-32
The introduction to the entire Letter of St. Paul to the Romans contains the summary of the teaching that the entire epistle proposes for the edification of believers. We are going to listen and follow this faith journey with St. Paul in this very important and condensed letter in our worship for the next three weeks.
In the word today, Paul addresses himself as the servant of Jesus Christ, servant of the gospel, servant of all those who believe I Christ. Like the great prophets who were servants of Yahweh, Paul identifies himself as the slave of Christ in the service of the gospel of salvation. Paul is not just a servant but an Apostle, one who was sent on mission, not by any man but by Christ Jesus Himself. Thus the origin of Paul's vocation is divine, not human.
The content of Paul's preaching is Christ Jesus Himself, descended from David according to the flesh, that is, born of the lineage of David from where He took His humanity and thus could lay claim to the promises made by Yahweh that the Saviour would come from the seed of David. Being from the lineage of David, our Lord could thus lay claim to the kingship of Israel.
Our Lord however did not just take humanity from David's line. He also took divinity from God His Father. This is why the word today tells us that Christ is the Son of God because the gospel is about God's Son who was appointed and designated, manifested and revealed as the Son of God in power, that is, through a mighty act of God.
That mighty act in which our Lord became manifested was His resurrection from the dead, since it was said of no one before or after Him that he rose from the dead and since no mortal could by His own power rise from the dead. So the fact of the resurrection gives a proof of His divinity as the Son of God. The resurrection revealed that our Lord had a relationship with the Father that no one before Him ever had and that He could give life to those He willed.
The resurrection of Christ made our Lord's designation as the Son of God manifest for all to see. This designation was achieved by the Spirit of holiness, which we know was present at the Incarnation of our Lord, when the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. It in in this glorified state as the Risen Lord and the source of holiness that our Lord vivifies all that live and believe in Him. It is in this that He vivifies believers who turn to Him with all their hearts.
It was this Risen Lord that gave St. Paul the grace of Apostleship to the gentiles, that is, to all the nations, to bring about the obedience of faith. This faith begins with listening to the word, welcoming the word, assenting to it and living by it in the obedience of faith. This faith is the entire content of the good news that the believer is called upon to preach and testify to. This faith is the one the word today tells us St. Paul committed his entire and most eventful life from the time of his conversion till the end of his life.
The testimony of Paul gives us cause for gladness and joy because of the manifold graces that his apostleship and witnessing brought to the Church and the work of the gospel, the task of winning souls for Christ. This unfortunately was not the case with the generation that our Lord castigated today in the gospel passage.
Our Lord showed His displeasure and utter exasperation with His generation and those He preached the word to but who remained stuck in their old ways and refused to turn to the truth and be saved. The point here was that the people wanted to know the source of our Lord's powers. They were besotted with knowing under whose authority and from where His power emanated.
Fundamental to their probing was their doubt about His divine origin. They saw the signs He worked and knew that no man could do those signs and miracles. But they also knew His human origin, the fact that they knew His mother and foster father. This became for them a stumbling block to faith in our Lord. As a result, the sought more signs to prove His divine origin.
For our Lord, Jonah's preaching of the word to the people of Nineveh which led to the conversion of that nation was an anticipatory sign of what He came to achieve. The kernel of His mission is therefore to preach the gospel and bring souls back to His Father. Just as the mass conversion of the Ninevites gave divine approbation to Jonah's preaching and teaching, the mass conversion and return of countless souls back to the source of their salvation is the sure sign that our Lord came from God. More than this, in our Lord, greater power than the one manifested by Jonah was present to be seen by all.
The word challenges us today to reflect on these powerful messages of salvation. May we be open to them. May we be touched and converted by them and attain life through them.
Let us pray: God our heavenly Father, you sent your Son into the world to give us salvation. Bring us to obedience in Him. Strengthen us by your word. Give us life in you. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.