On Catholic Community

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While discussing things much out of my depth at Disputations, it occurred to me that I have long been interpreting a certain verse of the Bible far too narrowly and the worlds that this verse opens up are vast, wonderful and puzzling.

St. Paul tells us somewhere (I will supply the reference in the near future I hope), that "All things work to the good of those who love Him." All things--everything--all that is. Not just those things that happen in our own experiences, but all things. That is a hurricane in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has some place in God's salvific plan for me individually, and for every individual who loves Him. We cannot know what that place is, nor can we begin to see what the fullness of that plan means. However, we can know and must assert that ALL things work to the good. Things that in themselves are not good--war, crime, poverty. Does it mean that these things should continue unabated? As Paul says with regard to sin elswhere--"Should we sin the more that the glory be greater? Far be it from me!" And yet, even these terrible things work to the good of everyone destined for salvation. How this might be is deeply mysterious. But we do ourselves a disservice by interpreting the verse too narrowly.

And then--what are the implications for Catholic Community. There is a sector of the Catholic population that would prefer to believe as John Bunyan portrays in A Pilgrim's Progress that we are all on our own, just me and God on the road to salvation. But that seems not to be the case at all. If so, why would we need priests or reconcilation, or any of a thousand other things that draw us together as both ecclesial and social community? (And make no mistake, the social aspects of that community, while they should never predominate, are integrally important in the economy of Salvation and the life of the Church.) If all things work to the good--that means the confession of my neighbor, works to my good. The Eucharist taken by someone I don't even know contributes to the Divine economy.

I'm sorry I'm so hurried, I'd like to pursue this further, but this is a start, and a most wonderful thought. Now everyone, let's all join in a chorus of "The Circle of Life."

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The passage is Romans 8:28 and in the ESV it reads: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[7] for those who are called according to his purpose." The only qualifier seems to be "for those who love God" but this is nothing unusual for St. Paul. In Phil 4 he writes "Rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS,. . ." and there are a number of other passages where he makes really wonderful blanket statements.

Good post.


Your post reminded me of the Vine and the branches in John15:1-8. We the community in Jesus are like branches on the Vine of Christ. One body and all that sort. Since we are all interconnected through Jesus, it naturally follows that "All things work to the good of those who love Him."

The thing that takes my breath away is that this stuff is REAL. It is not some good idea or a model for utopia. It is real!

Dear Mark,

It is utterly astonishing, mystifying, humbling, and truly wonderful, isn't it? I am overwhelmed by the truth sometimes--it doesn't dawn as a light but in its perfection it completely blinds the intellect (as St. John of the Cross would put it--thus faith is a dark night for the intellect.) Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 1, 2003 10:14 PM.

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