Yesterday I tackled the first half of the first verse of the passage I had written out. When I started writing yesterday, I had every intention of completing the passage in a single marathon run-through. But it appears that other Agencies had a different course in mind because today, as I was planning to complete the discussion of the passage, I was entranced by the second half of the first verse in this pericope: "for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Yesterday, we witnessed the bold proclamation "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" and I asked the question whether the same could be said for each of us. Today, we have the reason--the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. This is a fundamental tenet of our faith. The Good News of Jesus Christ is the news of salvation, redemption, and love. It is the news of a highly personal, highly involved God, who wishes to know each of us and whose will is that none of us should ever be separated from Him. However, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, the only thing, the single possibility of action, that stems entirely from a human being is a refutation or transgression of the will of God. This is all that we can accomplish on our own--a resounding NO to the eternal Yes uttered by Mary which allowed the salvation story to unfold.
Also note one of the great and resounding chords of the book of Romans--this salvation is not only for the historic Chosen People of God. Rather is is for all the people of God, with the Jews first (and I don't know if this means in the sequence of History, in the order of prominence, or both) but also to the non-Jewish people. It is a promise made to everyone who believes. And this raises a great question, which begins to be answered as we read through the latter portion of this pericope, and which is addressed in much greater detail and depth further on in the letter--just how pervasive is this gospel message? how powerful? and who is redeemed by it?
This great promise, this great salvation, has power beyond that which we acknowledge--or so it seems here because it is power for everyone of faith, everyone who believes, everyone who ardently and whole-heartedly seeks God. The gospel then, is universal, a promise to all peoples through all of time. It is the gospel that saves even those who lived before its proclamation to the world because it is a work out of linear time (chronos) and deeply permeated in all of time (kairos). The depth of this mystery is the depth of great joy and the source of all hope. It is something to celebrate and something to live day to day. It is, in fact, the fullness of God's love revealed, and hence, the fullness of God Himself because He is not separate from His love being simple and triuniate.