Monday of Week 29 of Ordinary Time – First Reading

Commentary on Romans 4:20-25

Paul continues to give the example of Abraham’s faith as a model for all of us. One might wonder why he devotes so much space to Abraham, but we must remember that he was seen as the father of God’s people (including us), and that he was looked up to as a model of good behaviour which won God’s favour:

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Through his faith Abraham gave glory to God because all that happens in his life is clearly the work of God and not of a human person. Faith truly is all-powerful; it shares in the power of God himself.

When the father of the epileptic boy came to Jesus to heal his son, Jesus told him:

All things can be done for the one who believes. (Mark 9:23)

Paul, too, could boast of his weaknesses because, as he said:

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Phil 4:13)

And so, from today’s reading, this was the faith that:

…was reckoned to him as righteousness.

This kind of faith is the sign of real ‘uprightness’, real goodness. It is not the self-generated ‘goodness’ which is no real goodness at all. As Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper:

…apart from me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

It was this surrendering of himself, against all apparent reason, into God’s hands which was Abraham’s “justice”, that is, his being made right with God. This is not a moral rightness but a total harmony of relationships, a union of heart and mind. And the word ‘reckoned’ in scripture applies not only to him; it is there for our sake too – our faith, too, will be ‘reckoned’.

What is true of Abraham is true for every single person. Our genuine goodness will be measured by the level of our faith and trust in the God who gives us strength. And, as Abraham was made right with God because he believed in a God who brought life from the dead, so we will be justified because:

It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

This is the source of our “justification”, our being “made right” with God – namely, that we totally give ourselves to Jesus Christ, as Lord and Saviour, who died and was raised to life so that we might share that life with him. In our case we go to God in faith through our intimate following of Jesus, joining him in suffering, death and resurrection.

God may seem at times to be calling us to the impossible. But our faith helps us to see that God works in everything and through everything. Apart from Abraham, there are many other examples in the lives of Christians, especially some of the great saints. Let us follow in their footsteps.

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