Reflection for Tuesday, October 27, 2009: 30th week in Ordinary Time.

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Butterfield, George
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The apostle Paul anticipates John Milton's poetry by sixteen centuries. Milton wrote of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The apostle Paul speaks of the impact on the whole creation of paradise lost and then sets forth the hope of paradise regained. One of the more fascinating aspects of what Paul says is that the loss of paradise did not just affect the human race. One of our modern notions is that sin only affects the sinner. Perhaps we should speak of "victimless sins." Similar to the notion of victimless crimes, these sins do not really hurt anybody else and, if people want to hurt themselves, let them. Paul says that there is no such thing as a victimless sin. Sin and death came into our world and the whole creation "was made subject to futility" because of it and has been "groaning in labor pains" ever since. Paul describes the present age, the age of paradise lost, with the following terms: sufferings, futility, slavery to corruption, and groaning. It is not a pretty picture and nothing is immune from it all.||Yet, there is hope. There is glory to be revealed for us, the glorious freedom that we will share as the children of God, the final adoption when we experience the redemption of our bodies. We are mortal. We die. Our bodies decay. But God is not even through with our bodies. Those bodies will be redeemed. The whole creation, including the most mortal part of it, has hope. So how should we live? With eager expectation, enduring the sufferings of this present time, and, looking to the future, we hope for what we do not see. I love the character played by Jeff Bridges in the 2003 movie, Seabiscuit. Charles Howard, the eventual owner of Seabiscuit, experiences many trials and tribulations but he seems to never fully lose hope. "The future is now," he says. The apostle Paul said that, although we groan as we deal with the futility of life in a world where we suffer and die, we who are disciples of Jesus Christ "have the firstfruits of the Spirit." The harvest of the age to come has begun in Jesus Christ. The future has begun. The future is now.|The history of the nation of Israel follows this same pattern of establishment, loss, and restoration. The people lost their temple, their land, and their nation. Would God ever restore any of it? For seventy years it appeared that he would not. Then, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, the Lord brought back the captives. It seemed like a dream. Eventually it dawned on them that it was for real. Then laughter returned, even the nations around them recognized the miracle God had performed, and the people rejoiced. The psalmist reflects on this turn of events. The God who made us go forth weeping and sowing in tears also brought us back rejoicing, carrying our sheaves. The apostle Paul looking forward and the psalmist looking back agree: the sufferings we endure now are nothing compared to the glory God has in store for us.|How much faith, hope, and love does it take to change us, our families, our parishes, our nation, and the world in which we live? Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed or leaven. Although it remains small, it has an impact on the world far beyond its size.|The future is now. The future is not yet. In the meantime, a little hope goes a long way.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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