Message: All things work for good for those who love God.
We are now in the fourth week of our series on Romans, Chapter 8 - Life in the Spirit.* St. Paul tells us, "All things work for good for those who love God."
All things work for good. How is that possible? You don't need a degree in history to know that humans have committed horrendous outrages. We all know about Auschwitz and the 9-11 attacks. They are the tip of a foul iceberg. In lives we experience shattering events that will never make the news: the death of a loved young person, a betrayal by someone we trusted or disease striking down a magnificent person - like the cancer that took Maggie Beatte's life last year. Each person here (including myself) has had things happen that make us ask, "Where is God?" Yet, St. Paul had seen even worse and he says, "All things work for good for those who love God."
In this series we have already seen that God permits bad choices because he respects our freedom and because he desires that the deepest liberty - "the glorious freedom of the children of God."
God allows bad choices with the hope that the consequences will lead to humility. We saw the example of Matt Talbot. Addicted to alcohol, Matt eventually hit bottom. God took no pleasure seeing Matt face down in the mud, but he rejoiced when Matt asked for help. At that point God lifted him up and he began the journey to that glorious freedom. All things - even extreme humiliation - worked for good in Matt Talbot's life.
I'd like to tell you about another man who God brought low in order to raise him up. His life dramatically illustrates how God can use all things, even physical ailments, for someone's ultimate good. This man was a physical giant - six foot, six inches tall. Dreaming of military glory, he entered the Venetian army where he fell into vices common to soldiers, especially drinking and gambling.
In the war against the Turks he suffered a leg infection. He received poor medical treatment and was partially crippled the rest of his life. A giant brought low, he heard the preaching of a Franciscan Friar and made the decision to give his life to God. He went on to form the Servants of the Sick - a congregation of male nurses. They cared for plague victims and the wounded on battlefields. He founded eight hospitals. He was a good administrator, but he also had the ability to focus on each patient as they were the only person that mattered.
This physical giant who God transformed into a spiritual giant had an unusual name, Camillus. We celebrated his feast day of July 18. He's a darn good saint to help you if you suffer from an addiction or if you have an ailment that won't go away. St. Camillus illustrates how God can make all things work for good for those who love him.
The good and bad are jumbled together in our world and in our lives. Jesus assures that in the final day - at the Last Judgment - there will be a separation. We can have confidence that those God predestines, he also calls and those he calls he also justifies and those he justifies he also glorifies - the glorious freedom of the children of God.
As Jesus told us last Sunday, on the day of judgment you and I want to be good wheat, not weeds. But we also saw that Jesus in this life can transform weeds to wheat. Remember that wheat was once a weed until a brilliant person saw its potential. He put a certain weed through a painstaking process - and as a result you and I can enjoy such delicious things bread, pasta and pancakes. God even now wants to transform me and you. He can use anything to achieve that. All things work for good for those who love God. Amen.
*Week 1: Humility - "You are not in the flesh; on the contrary you are in the spirit"..."spirit willing, but flesh weak"
Week 2: Freedom - "the glorious freedom of the children of God"
Week 3: Prayer - "we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes..."
Week 4: Trust - "all things work for good for those who love God."
Week 5: Overcoming Envy - "What will separate us from the love of God?"
From Archives (for Seventeenth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
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