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“What can separate us from the love of Christ?” asks St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. “Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or the sword?” If Paul were alive today, I think he would be likely to add sub-prime mortgages, stock market crashes and government bailouts to the list.
But the answer Paul gives to the question he poses would be the same. “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35; 38-39).
Usually, it isn’t difficult for most of us to believe in God and even trust him. But when the world around us -- the one it seems we might count on a whole lot more than we think we do -- reels with instability, most of us can’t avoid feeling a bit shaken. The economic news this week and last has thrown most of us for a loop. Even those who haven’t sustained any financial losses are concerned, and frightened by the sell-offs, buy-outs and failures unfolding with a fury on Wall Street.
We are anxious in part because we are being told by almost all the powers that be that we should be anxious. And anxiety is almost inescapable given the grim picture of an impending economic Armageddon that our leaders and media have set forth in bold colors and sharp detail. We have all, in fact, been encouraged to worry about a possible collapse of the credit markets, and perhaps the entire United States economy.
The move for swift action amid this crisis has given way to a partisan political dialogue that has begun to sound a lot like Adam and Eve blaming each other in the Garden of Eden. “The woman you put here with me -- she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” “The Serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” In the end, choices were made and the Fall was a collaborative effort. All involved suffered consequences, and the need for a Divine Rescue Plan or “Bailout” was indisputable.
Jesus is our “bailout,” our “rescue,” our salvation from the mess we chose to get ourselves into. And while $700 billion is a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the cost of the Cross of Christ. Congress and the Bush Administration may struggle to find a workable plan to get our country out of the pit we’re in. But in Christ Jesus, God gave us not only a way out, but a way up: a pathway to heaven that simultaneously held us accountable, but also paid a price no human being could never afford.
The real news we ought to be focusing on is the good news of the Gospel. CNN and Fox will never tell us the truth that is even more bottom line than the bottom line, and that is that St. Paul was right. There is nothing that can or will separate us from the love of Christ. If we suffer famine or persecution or distress, it is only in this world on our way to the next.
The problem with possessions is that they can be lost even more easily than they are gained. Our worst fears may or may not be realized. But whatever we lose, the brightest of futures cannot be taken away from us. The love of God, which is ultimately all we need, will be ours. Wall Street may buy and sell securities of various types, but the only real security is found in God. Let us use these days to increase our trust in him, rather than in the money on which we print “In God we trust.”
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis De Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.