This Sunday: All Things Work for Good
This Sunday’s second reading is mentioned many times in the Catechism — in fact, paragraph No. 2012 consists entirely of the words of today’s second reading, with nothing added.
That is because St. Paul’s confident declaration of hope is at the very heart of what we believe as Christians.
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God,” he says.
In the parables of today’s Gospel, we see where the foundation of this hope lies. They have a “happily ever after” quality about them:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
Possessing the kingdom is sufficient. No second step is required.
The saints are the ones who have followed those parables the most, and they are the ones who have the strongest confidence that “all things work for good for those who love God.”
St. Catherine of Siena said to never complain because everything — good or bad — “comes from love, and all is ordained for the salvation of man.”
St. Thomas More, shortly before being beheaded, told his daughter cheerfully, “Nothing can come but that which God wills.”
Julian of Norwich perhaps said it most simply of all: “All manner of things shall be well.”
For human beings hope is an absolute necessity. We could not face the world without hope.
Yet, as Pope Benedict said: “Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope” (Spe Salvi, 23).
Our certainty that “all things work for good” is almost a proof for the existence of God. If there is no God then the universe wasn’t designed by love; it emerged from chaos and is ordained for nothing but more chaos. Not only is there no reason to suppose things will be all right, an intelligent person should expect them to get worse.
But because there is a God, we say, “Everything will be all right” no matter what. We say it during a storm at night to our children, we say it to our spouse after we lose a job; we say it whenever things seem to be going awry.
God is in charge. His way will win in the end. He is there for us, above and beyond even death.
The readings explain why.
The first reading says it is because God’s gift of wisdom is his greatest gift — a gift no one can take away.
The second reading explains that it is because Christ has chosen us — “And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.”
The Gospel says it is because we have found God’s kingdom, a kingdom which lasts forever, long after the earth’s kingdoms are gone.
“A world without God is a world without hope,” Pope Benedict said.
But God exists. And since he exists, “all things work for good for those who love God.”