Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Law of Love – Br. David Allen


Romans 3:21-31

When I was a boy growing up in Spokane, Washington, sometimes my father would take me, or the whole family, riding in our family car into the countryside west of Spokane.  The Grand Coulee Dam was being built in those days and was a project of interest to all of us.  The central part of the State of Washington to the west of Spokane is largely flat wheat farming country, and some of it is nearly desert-like, with grass and sagebrush, and numerous outcroppings of rock formations.  Evangelical Christian sects often used the flat surfaces on these rocks to paint Bible verses, or parts of Bible verses as part of their outreach.  One of the very common verses that we would see is included in our first reading for today: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)  Another verse that we would often see was “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23a)   Both of these verses as they are found in the Bible are followed by a positive statement.  In the first case the verse is preceded by the word “since”, and followed by the positive statement, “they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.”  (Rom. 3:24-25)  It reads in full: “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.” (vv. 23-25)  In the second case the statement is followed by the positive response, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23b)

We know that it is part of human nature that in spite of our faith we do fall into temptation and sin.  But we also know that Jesus promised forgiveness to those who repent and turn again to follow his teachings as they are contained in the Gospels, especially in the law of love.

The last part of today’s reading has to do with the relationship between faith and the law.  If we understand the law in terms of the law of love, and the love shown towards God in the Ten Commandments and in the Summary of the Law, I think we can understand what a great gift it is that Jesus made atonement for us by his cross and resurrection, made available to us by faith.

The essence of the gift is that it comes to us through our faith, and that it is the same faith that Jews can have through their observance of the law, as it is for Christians as we observe the law of love, loving God with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

When I recall those partial verses from the Bible painted on the rocks by the roadside I can also remember the promise of salvation that completes those verses and give thanks to God for that gift of salvation.  All of us can respond to God with faith, and hope, and love.  Thanks be to God for his great gift of love!

 

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18 Comments

  1. Margaret Green on October 11, 2017 at 07:36

    Thankyou Brother. I struggle with forgiveness of those close to me who continue to wound. I accept God’s grace and healing but it seems to me that the healing is breeched just when I “think” that I ahve cove to the point of true forgivness. It is so Hard,

  2. Michael on September 20, 2017 at 11:34

    Forgiveness at times has eluded me. Finally I understand what the church saying regarding forgiveness and what I believe God say. They are not always the same. Slowly I have come to trust God’s word rather than how various churches have understood forgiveness. As previously stated forgiveness comes to us often as a mystery and always as a gift. One step at time. Often frustrating but there is a reason today is not tomorrow.

  3. Patrice on August 9, 2015 at 12:13

    I struggle every day with gluttony. I have battled a deadly disease and with God’s help survived. I pray and I fight everyday to overcome this issue, I believe that God will help me overcome this sin. I repent almighty God. Please, lift me up in prayer, this sin has a strong hold. Praise to God for his goodness and his love.

  4. Louise on August 5, 2015 at 22:42

    I have discovered one idea that helps me to let go of guilt and accept God’s forgiveness: Feelings of guilt keep ME in the center of my thoughts. Letting go centers my thoughts on God and His goodness instead of my “badness.”

    • Patrice on August 9, 2015 at 12:07

      Good insight, Thank you

      • Michael on September 20, 2017 at 11:26

        Yes, it is a good insight. Thank you for sharing it

  5. Jeff Schiffmayer on August 5, 2015 at 09:38

    Thankyou David for proclaiming gods mercy as the last word! When Paul said “we are dead and our lives are hid with
    Christ in God” I find that to be the clearest expression of repentance and faith! And
    The question “how do we let go?” Is a great one that deserves a serious and personal answer…. Jeff Schiffmayer

  6. Roy Stevens on May 7, 2014 at 13:00

    After many confessions to a priest and to God, I still feel the guilt of my many transgressions. And since I am scheduled to turn 90 yrs in October, I’ve committed my share. Any thoughts on how to let go?

    • John on August 6, 2015 at 08:33

      Roy:
      My experience has been that deep and broad self-acceptance comes to me before I have ever felt forgiven. I experience self-acceptance as something I can work on, bit by bit. Forgiveness comes to me as mystery and gift though. Its seeds grow most quickly in the fertile soil of self-acceptance of my own black, white and grey parts.

  7. Ruth West on May 3, 2014 at 00:27

    Thank you, Br. David, for this good homily. How
    wonderful that, in spite of the fact that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. What a marvelous gift it is!

  8. Jaan Sass on May 2, 2014 at 22:01

    I pray his grace and love is sufficient for me.

  9. Carole Gilman on May 2, 2014 at 11:35

    These writings are special to me. I need and try to, read everything I can on this as I need to hear that he does forgive me as there are things that I don’t seem to be able to forgive myself for. I then find that a really arrogant thought from me and then feel even worse. Thank you for this and bless all of you for helping us as we try to grow.

  10. John MCCann on May 2, 2014 at 10:45

    Great wisdom- and a good lesson in those who take passages from scripture out of context, to prove some point. Your reflection are wise words on reading scripture in a larger context, rather than pulling out a phrase to support an “argument”. Blessings to you Brother,

  11. Sue Berkenbush on May 2, 2014 at 07:05

    You have answered a question that has lurked in the back of my mind during the decades that have passed since I first travelled to the mid-west on my way to college. We drove by several of the mini-warnings taken out of place from the Bible and I have never understood what hope was let for us if we believed in only the partial quotes. Thank you!

  12. Ralph Andrewd on January 4, 2014 at 16:25

    Thank You

  13. Gian Inchauspe on January 4, 2014 at 13:20

    Great teaching. Wise teacher.

  14. Marvin Yates on January 4, 2014 at 12:48

    Hello, Brother David,
    In reading the meditation that you wrote today, I note that you grew up in Spokane. I’m from Lewiston, ID, and, of course, spent a lot of time in your stomping grounds. I’ll turn the ripe age (notice no mention of ‘old’) of 66 next month.
    My Dad grew up solidly Protestant and Mother was very German Catholic. My sister and I attended Catholic schools for eight years, then I attended Mt. Angel Seminary High School in Oregon for two years. At a couple of times in my life, I’ve been a member of Episcopal parishes, once in Canyon, TX, and also in Lewiston. Do you happen to know Father Jack Dempsey of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane? Father Jack was our priest at Trinity in Lewiston.
    Please remember me at your Masses.
    Marv Yates
    Amarillo, TX

  15. Christina on January 4, 2014 at 11:30

    We (or I do) know when we have said or done things for which we need to be forgiven We can ask for, and are assured of, God’s forgiveness.
    But what of the insidious things we do, unwittingly, that we are not conscious of; that too need to be forgiven.
    Earlier last summer two friends visited me. Afterwards, I didn’t hear from one for some time. Eventually, I contacted him and discovered that he had been hurt at our get together because he felt he had been excluded from part of our conversation. I didn’t recall the conversation at all, but that was beside the point. He had been upset, I apologized to him, asked God for forgiveness. How often do we hurt one another in our daily encounters?

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