Good News in the Empire

By Ken Asel

A Reading from Romans 12:9-21

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Meditation

Paul’s message to the Romans is expressed beautifully in today’s reading. The apostle speaks of love, the kind of love that is a sincere manifestation of Christian community that is both genuine and profoundly personal. “Hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” It is as if Paul listens intently with his fellows to every word from the mouth of Jesus. And then, when the Lord is finished, it is as if Paul rises, saying, It is time to put these words of hope into practice. What the Master has charged us to do, let us do as we leave this place and spread the Good News throughout the Empire to those who will listen. Living in love with others is a powerful way to share the holy words of Jesus to all who would wish to open their hearts, to all who yearn to be transformed, seeking to give themselves over to God.

While some knew Paul only as a resolute Pharisee who wished to stamp out this new religion spoken about by the Galilean, others looked to Paul as one who was himself transformed. He manifested the duty of Christians to rejoice in the midst of suffering. Paul, before he told his audience how to act, first showed them both the way of the cross and the way that leads to eternal life. Feed your enemy and give water even to the one who may kill you, says the martyr. Be merciful and tell others what they will find in the fellowship of salvation.

(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for over 30 years and reside on the Front Range.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Karimnagar – The (united) Church of South India
Saint James School, Hagerstown, Md.

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