Sunday July/August/September 2020

In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of Vatican II decreed that the ‘treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word’ (SC 52). This lavish feast of the Word of God at the celebration of the Eucharist is designed to nourish and inspire the faithful. The following reflections on the Sunday readings for the next three months are an attempt to help readers and listeners to savour and to ponder the selected passages so as to been drawn ever closer to the source of that nourishment. The author is a parish priest in Dorset.

The Letter to the Romans
Paul writes his letter to the Romans as a preparation for his eventual visit there on his way to take the Gospel to Spain. He is seeking the support of the Roman community for this endeavour. As he has not been involved in the foundation of the Church there, he wants to articulate his understanding of the Gospel, so that the Christians in Rome will both recognise his authenticity and be encouraged by his words. While not a formal theological treatise, the letter to the Romans does offer a series of careful articulations of Paul’s theology, and has, therefore, been regarded as a key document in theological understanding (and debate) from the earliest times. The sections we are offered over the next several weeks touch on the Christian life which is rooted in the Spirit and is therefore the cause of hope and a positive invitation to acknowledge the destiny of the believer; and then there follows a later part of the letter dealing with the special place of Israel in God’s plan, as Paul tackles the relationship of the pagans to Israel. If one ponders Paul’s words in this part of the letter, one can only be deeply unsettled to contemplate the history of Christian anti-Semitism.

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