I continue to marvel at how the living Word of God in Sacred Scripture continues to speak to us with wisdom and relevance to our daily lives. In particular, the Second Readings we have been hearing from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans have provided some much-needed encouragement for us during these challenging times. This week is no different, as we hear these words:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
A few months ago, I remember mentally inserting the word “coronavirus” into the list of those things that could not separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. At the time, there was so much uncertainty and fear, and these words rang out like a bell to break me out of my negative thinking and returned me to a place of hope.
If we are honest with ourselves, there is still a great deal of fear in our world about the coronavirus, not to mention the many other concerns that affect our lives. And when we are faced with these fears, we do well to hear these words of St. Paul and to bring this question to prayer: “Am I really convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus?” Bring to the Lord whatever your anxiety is and insert it into the list above and be encouraged to move forward in hope.
It is important to note, however, that there actually is one thing that can ever separate us from the love of Christ – ourselves. Our unwillingness to accept His love by turning away from Him and freely choosing to sin pushes us away from His love, and in the case of mortal sin, we separate ourselves completely from His love. We can sometimes point to things outside of ourselves and claim that they are pulling us away from God, or that He is pulling Himself away from us, neither of which is true. He never stops offering His love to us and nothing that happens to us can break that bond.
Therefore, in addition to praying with the above passage, ask yourself: “When was the last time I went to confession?” Maybe I am in need of being drawn closer to His love (or restored to it in the case of mortal sin) which will have the effect of bolstering our faith in the belief that when we abide in His love in the state of grace, absolutely nothing can separate us from His love. His love has already won the victory, and that love promises us a share in His victory of eternal life for those who persevere in remaining in His love through grace.
Father Alford is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in the diocesan curia as the Vicar for Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations.