Greetings in the Name of Christ Jesus our Lord!
Yesterday's Epistle was Romans 12:14-21, and we will focus in particular on verses 14-16 and verse 21, which read, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
St. Paul sets before us a tall task as regards the Christian life with these words. Twice we are told to bless the folks who persecute us, who seek to cause us harm and often do. And our response, even in the face of this torment, should be to bless. That's hard. The others on the list are rough too - rejoicing with others. . . even if you don't like the others all that much. Weeping with others - not avoiding their sorrow but sharing in it. Or think about living in harmony - that means you have change your life to be in tune with others, you might have to play a different note than you would want to so that there can be harmony. Associate with people who you think are worse than you. Avoid conceit, so don't even think that there are people worse than you..
That's a tall order - but that's the Law of God. That is what God means when He says, "Love your neighbor." Not just a superficial love, not just a love in passing, but to honestly, truly, and fully love.
I put three words there - honestly, truly, and fully - because I like baseball, but unfortunately, it seems like I swing and miss and all three. None of us did this list all that well this past week - and the best we can hope for this week isn't to actually do this list rightly, but merely to be aware, to remember that this is how we ought to live and struggle against our own sinful flesh to try to do it.
But here is the beautiful, wondrous thing. Our Lord Christ Jesus has told us that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. So consider how your Lord Christ Jesus has treated you. You were born sinful, an opponent of God. Did Jesus curse you? By no means! Instead, He came down from heaven and was crucified that you might be blessed! He rose from the dead that you might too rise on the last day and rejoice with Him for all eternity! He shared in your own tears and weeping -think on the bitter tears over Lazarus, the tears that came during His passion. He shared in the tears of mankind that He might with His death and resurrection rescue you from all weeping forever more. He came and He lived in harmony even with those who struck and abused Him. He was not haughty, but came and preached good news to lowly sinners, to those spurned by society - even to you.
St. Paul also gives us a picture here of what Christ Jesus did - He overcame the evil of our sinfulness by the perfect Goodness of His life, death, and resurrection. We now participate in that, we now bear His goodness, we now let it shine forth - now in part as we struggle against sin, but on the last day in full reflected glory.
This week, strive to show love like Christ, and when that is hard, when you fail, remember that Christ Jesus has indeed shown you prefect love, and that He has overcome your evil with His righteousness.