I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

Human beings and the creation experience a common problem of suffering which can be traced to sin. The writer of Genesis makes the point that the creation was good: “ And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). The sin of our fore-parents corrupted the created order and from that time until the present both human beings and the creation have experienced suffering in many and varied forms.

St. Paul uses the words ‘groaning’ and ‘travail’ to describe the suffering which the creation and human beings live through. He likens our condition to that of a woman who is in travail as she awaits the birth of a child. This thought speaks of the agony, pain and  may be frustration, which the created order and human beings are subjected to in their present form of existence. However, we must always remember that the travail gives way to joy when the baby arrives.

The suffering of the creation and human beings is real. It is not a figment of our imagination as some would want us to believe. We know for a fact without any doubt that there is suffering and pain in the world.

Human suffering manifests itself in pain and disease, rape, murder, violence, broken relationships, war, abuse of all kinds, death, economic crises as we now experience them and many other forms of evil.

Storms, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, famine and drought and other incidents which we call acts of God, point to the suffering of the physical world.

Some of the suffering human beings and the creation undergo comes when we live according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit that is in us and dwells in us. If we are honest with ourselves we will have to admit that much of the personal suffering we have experienced in the past or might be experiencing now can be traced to our inappropriate living-living according to the flesh.   So we must be careful what we do, what we say and how we live so as not to contribute to the suffering of people, the created order and personal pain and injury.

In today’s New Testament reading St. Paul acknowledges the presence of evil and  makes the point that both the creation and human beings share in Christ’s act of redemption. Christ’s death and resurrection was not only for human beings as some would teach; the whole creation benefited from these events. This fact signifies that the creation is good and as good stewards we must care and preserve the creation. God does not and will not abandon us to fate and decay; this is the guarantee of Jesus resurrection.

The creation waits for its liberation ‘from its bondage to decay’ and human beings eagerly await their freedom from groaning and their adoption as sons and daughters of God.

The reading describes life as it is; a miserable experience characterised by suffering and pain. We must never forget that the miseries of life are the result of sin and people’s refusal to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ. St. Paul is not painting a picture of gloom, he is not inviting pessimism, he is a realist but at the same time he tells us that what we suffer now ‘are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us’. Paul has a vision of the eschatological hope , the end of time when all evil will be destroyed and God will be all in all.

We ‘who have the first fruits of the Spirit’, that is, those who live according to the  Spirit, always live in hope. To live according to the Spirit is to live in hope. People who live according to the flesh are hopeless, doubtful and despairing. In our text Paul contrasts the attitude of those who live according to the Spirit and those who live according to the flesh as they live out their lives in this evil environment. To live according to the Spirit is to live in hope.

The hope which is the result of living in the Spirit points to a time when redeemed humanity will live in peace with God and in a world transformed by the Spirit. To live in the Spirit is to be steadfast and strong in the face of adversity. To live in the Sprit is to be optimistic about life and to see the bright side of life. To live in the Spirit is to believe that the damage done to the created world and life in general by the sin of Adam and Eve will be reversed. To live in the Spirit is to have personal hope in the face of adversity. In today’s reading St. Paul invites us to be people of hope and not to allow hopelessness to govern our lives.

Today’s Gospel also speaks about evil and hope. A man sowed good seed only to discover that someone had sown weeds among the good seed. This story reminds us of the suffering which we meet in life and the suffering experienced by the creation. It is also a story of patience and hope that should be part of our lives as we encounter evil in our lives and the world. How do we see hope in this story? It is seen in the man’s response to the question: 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' He said: ' 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

So many things happen in our lives that have the potential to crush and destroy us if we are not people of hope. We must listen to what Paul says to the Thessalonians: “We do not lose hope’.

Dancing is an expression of joy and happiness. In a sense, Paul in today’s New Testament reading invites us to dance. ‘I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us’. I think the reading permits us to say that living in the Spirit means to live in hope and to be able to dance.

Christians are supposed to live according to the Spirit, and because we live according to the Spirit, in whatever situation we find ourselves we can and should dance because of the confidence we have in Christ. We might not like the music, nevertheless we can dance.

My advice to you is this: Go and dance.

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