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As we continue in Romans, we will be in Chapter 8 for a few weeks. It’s a jackpot.
It also serves as a bridge. Near the middle of the letter, it is a transition from the "bad news" of our former life under Adam to the "Good News" of how we live in Christ.
Chapter 5-7 has terms of Adam, Sin, Death, Flesh – the “bad news” – the situation of original sin, which corrupts our hearts, making us live sub-par lives that are without peace and joy. This dysfunction we can see easily in others, but sometimes it is more difficult in our own lives, especially when it isn’t something on the outside. Ch 7 particularly
Chapter 8 speaks of what the “Good News” is, the “Gospel” that comes to us in Christ. We can change. The words of Sin, Adam, Death, Flesh, are now contrasted perfectly with Grace, Christ, Life, and Spirit.
We are hard-wired for worship, for giving our lives to something. Altar. Throne. When we are at our worst, it is given to wealth, power, pleasure, fame, money, etc. These end up sabotaging our lives and damaging the lives of those around us.
But now Christ Jesus reigns in us, Paul tells us, because of our baptism. And it is much better when Christ is reigning us.
Red Sea image is helpful for this. The people of Israel are lost, dead, and hopeless as pharaoh’s army charges. But when they cross, everything changes. They are free to worship God, no longer slaves to their pasts.
Paul is drawing a line in the sand. It was that way, and now it is this way. And in many ways he is right. We are either serving God, or we are worshiping an idol. There are no other possibilities.
So, as Saint Paul describes, we need to let Jesus come and reign in our hearts. And this is where the first reading and the Gospel come in.
In Zechariah, the king is entering Jerusalem. A spiritual meaning of this passage is of Jesus entering the Christian soul by baptism. He is our king, and he comes on a donkey, not a horse. Entering a city on a donkey is not a sign of weakness or poverty, and not only a sign of humility either. It is a sign of peace. Kings go out on horses and march into towns they conquered on horses. But it is different with donkeys, because obviously donkeys are not good get-away vehicles: they don’t move fast, and somethings they get stubborn and don’t even move at all! So a king takes this relaxed easy animal when he is in peace.
When we let Jesus reign in our hearts, to sit on our throne, He doesn’t bring war and destruction to our lives. He brings His peace and establishes his order, just as the word “GOSPEL” means the “good news” that a king has won a victory on the borders and brought peace and order to the city for years to come.
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
We are going to serve something. Our lives will end up being wrapped up with something as its focus.
At the end of our days, we will hear God say to us “YOUR WILL BE DONE.” But what will be our hearts desire? It is determined by how we live our lives, whether we prefer heaven or our own will. He wishes us to love Him freely, but He loves us enough to let us choose.
So in our baptism, and every day of our lives, we choose Christ. Let us check our hearts once again, and re-establish Jesus as the only king on our thrones, so that he can order our lives in a way that brings the true peace we can have only from His Spirit dwelling within us. Amen.