Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Reading for Wednesday, 28th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Romans 2:1-11

The Jews Also are Guilty

[1] Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. [2] We know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who do such things. [3] Do you suppose, 0 man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? [4] 0r do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? [5] But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. [6] For he will render to every man according to his works: [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; [8] but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. [9] There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, [10] but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. [11] For God shows no partiality.


1. The Apostle now addresses the Jews to make them see that, despite their privileged position, they too are unrighteous. He does this by setting up an imaginary conversation with a person representing the Jewish people, whose attitude is like that of those who "trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others" (Lk 18:9). If the pagans, who could only know God through the use of natural reason, cannot be excused for not worshipping him and for committing sin, how much more inexcusable is the behavior of Jews who, despite receiving supernatural Revelation, commit the very same sins as those for which they reproach the Gentiles. St Paul's invective against the Jews (vv. 17-24) is reminiscent of our Lord's criticism of the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Mt 23:13-33).

2-11. These verses contain the following truths: 1) God rewards and punishes, and therefore there is a close connection between a person's behavior in this life (meritorious or blameworthy) and what happens to him or her in the next life (cf. especially vv. 2, 5, 7-10). 2) God is a just and impartial Judge; he does not look to whether a person is Jew or Gentile but simply to how he lives. 3) The passage also tells us when this judgment will take place (v. 5, elaborated on by v. 16).

In the course of speaking about God as rewarding the good, St Paul describes the glorious state of the blessed in heaven ("eternal life", "glory", "honor", "peace": vv. 7, 10) and the fact that it will last for ever ("immortality": v. 7). He also teaches that in order to attain this state one must persevere in good works ("patience in well-doing": v. 7); this echoes what our Lord said: "he who endures to the end will be saved" (Mt 10:22; cf. 24:13).

Parallel with this, St Paul speaks of how God will punish sinners ("wrath and fury": v. 8) and of the unhappy fate of those condemned to hell ("tribulation and distress": v. 9).

The meaning of this passage becomes clearer in the light of many other passages of Sacred Scripture and, also, of the Church's teaching about the Judgment and when it will take place. There are two different occasions "when everyone must appear in the presence of the Lord to render an account of all his thoughts, words and actions [...]. The first takes place when each of us departs this life; for then he is instantly placed before the judgment seat of God, where all that he has ever done shall be subjected to the most rigid scrutiny. This is called the particular judgment. The second occurs when on the same day and in the same place all men shall stand together before the tribunal of their judge, that in the presence and hearing of all human beings of all times each may know his final doom and sentence" ("St Pius V Catechism", 1, 8, 3).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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