Second Reading: Romans 8:18-23

Looking Forward

What sort of dreams and aspirations have you had? How many have been fulfilled? How many are still to be realized?

Popular Translation

18 I don’t think what we suffer now can be compared with the glory God will show us. 19 Even creation eagerly waits for God to reveal his children. 20 Yes, creation has suffered, not because it wanted it, but because of what Adam did to creation when he sinned against God. 21 Yet, creation hopes to be freed from decay and to share in the freedom God’s children will enjoy. 22 We know that, until now, creation groaned, like a mother about to give birth. 23 While the Spirit has begun its work in us, we also groan inside as we wait for God to save our bodies and adopt us as his children.

Literal Translation

18 For I consider that the sufferings of the present moment are not worthy (compared) to the coming glory (about) to be revealed among us. 19 For, the eager expectation in creation awaits the unveiling of the sons of God. 20 For, creation was subjected into futility, not willingly, but through the one having subjected it, (yet) in hope, 21 that creation itself will be freed from the slavery to corruption towards the freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that all creation groaned and suffered birth pangs (as one) until now. 23 Not only that, but we, ourselves having the beginning (gift) of the Spirit, (also) groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

8:20 “but through the one having subjected it” The subject of this clause is Adam whose sin “corrupted” the natural order.

In these few verses, Paul flatly stated that what we suffer now is insignificant to the glory that lies ahead. For Paul, the view of the end times was an aspiration, not a fear. Unlike the tone of the Our Father (“...lead us not into temptation (that will come with the Tribulation), but deliver us from the Evil One...”), Paul confidently anticipated the Final Judgement. He saw God’s glory, not his condemnation.

Indeed, Paul saw this anticipation in cosmic proportions. All of creation yearned for the reversal of the curses wrought from Adam’s sin. Instead of disease, suffering, and death within nature’s cycles, the cosmos itself would share in the blessings of a saved humanity. With Christ, the new Adam, death had been vanquished. When he reigns in glory, nature would return to its pristine, uncorrupted place.

The clock for the end time began with the death and resurrection of Christ. Knowledge of this revelation came from the Spirit. With the Spirit dwelling within us, Paul insisted, we become acutely aware of our limitations in this world, and of our expectation in the next. The gift of the Spirit is the “first fruit” of salvation. With the Spirit, we can recognize the movement toward the end times, and we can clearly see when we will stand before our Master, body and soul united. Then, we will be complete.

Until that time, we look forward.

How does the Spirit help you to look forward in hope despite the troubles of the day?