31 October, 2013. Thursday of the Thirtieth Week
Rom 8:31ff. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Lk 13:31ff. Jesus laments over Jerusalem and its coming destruction.
First Reading: Romans 8:31-39
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gospel: Luke 13:31-35
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jersalem.’
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’“
A Hallow-E’en Lesson
On this Hallow-Een, the Apostle calls to mind the world of spirits that surrounds us — invisibly, to be sure but also in ways that touch our lives. He minces no words in his warning about the battle against evil in which we are all engaged. For Paul, the battle for goodness and integrity is fought in real earnest. Yet the same text overflows with confidence, suggesting that the battle is already almost over and won, when it asks, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?”
We must take seriously both sides of this: 1) our battle is not against human forces but against “principalities and powers”; and conversely, 2) nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God. The excelling love of God is real, but it does not dispense us from the struggles of life. We are required to face them, each in our own way. Problems will still plague us but they are not excuses for giving in to depression or panic, or failing to face up to the challenge in our lives.
Paul offers a perpetual motivation for coping with these trials. He declares that in them all we are more than conquerors because of him who loved us. Love is the secret ingredient in our response to life. We must keep in mind the image of Jesus and the love which prompted his obedience to the will of the Father: Will not the God who gave his own Son for us, grant us everything we need?
The gospel recognizes the certainty of Jesus’ destiny with death, and his struggle to accept it. He knows that “No prophet can be allowed to die anywhere except in Jerusalem.” Yet the cruelly fickle city of Jerusalem does not evoke any hatred in him, only sorrowing love and eventual hope: How he wanted to gather its people together as a hen collects her young under her wings. Eventually, love wins out.