Our Hope Is Rooted Deeply in God’s Relationship With Mankind Throughout History
Paul is writing to the community of new Christians in Rome here and giving them encouragement in hope. The hope that he encourages is not an abstract idea either. It is rooted deeply in the history of God’s relationship with all of mankind from the beginning. It was the ancient hope of the Chosen people and, because of Jesus, it is the hope of all, now and forever.
The hope that we Christians live in is no idyll. It is not simply a poetic idea, a fiction written in beautiful, inspiring language. It is real. It has precedents. The Hebrew Testament is the history of hope told through God’s relationship with the Jews, the Chosen People. Yet, the Hebrew Testament also reveals that God’s promise of salvation is not only for the Jews. It was Paul, a Jew well versed in the Hebrew Testament, who was given the mission to take this same hope filled with joy and peace to the Gentiles, by the risen Jesus himself. In the verses just prior to the one we are meditating on today in chapter 13 of the Letter to the Romans, we see Paul making reference to several passages from the Hebrew Testament that attest to the fact that the Gentiles, too, were to be included in this hoped for salvation. He does this to encourage the Roman community (and us) with the Good News that salvation belongs to all. (verses 9-12)
The unfolding history of salvation that is seen throughout the Hebrew Testament was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He is the Holy One who had been promised from of old. Jesus was born and died a Jew, but he came to save the whole world, not only the Jews. No one knows this more intimately than Paul. His inability, in the beginning to accept the truth of Jesus’ teachings, was changed forever on the road to Damascus. He was knocked down in his pride and raised up in holy humility. His eyes were not only opened to the truth, but this God of hope filled his soul with joy and peace in the truth and his heart and mind with the courage and insight to be able to spread this message of living hope beyond the Jewish world into the whole world.
We have hope because of Jesus Christ. It is the God of hope who loved the world so much that,”he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This God of hope, who we have seen in the person of Jesus, has left us his Holy Spirit, “to fill [us] with all joy and peace…” It is in our “believing” that we have come to know this peace and joy. It is “by the power of the Holy Spirit, [then, that we] may abound in hope. He is the reason for our hope. Because our ancient hope has been fulfilled, we believe! This is also why we can hope to one day see the One who is the reason for our hope in the face, in his heavenly kingdom.
Lord, it is in you, alone, that our hearts find joy and peace. Help us to live our daily lives in and through the power of your hope. Increase our faith daily. Sustain and deepen our hope. Fill our hearts with your abounding love so completely that it will overflow from us toward everyone we meet in our daily lives. In this way, we may become apostles of your Good News in the world today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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