Lectionary Year A
September 8, 2002
Romans 13:8-14

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) The "theological 'center of gravity' in this text" seems to be the gifts of God, which here include the Decalogue, love, salvation and the model of proper conduct of life-styles, Jesus Christ in/with/after the model of whose life we are to live. Then, other major concerns are, first, love, then the Ten Commandments themselves and the others to be loved and treated with respect. These observations leave to comprise the minor elements in this passage the coming of the day as the night's darkness ends, the various examples of misbehavior and the figure of the flesh with desires wanting to be gratified.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 8 Owe nothing to no one unless it be to love others; for loving others is the best way to fulfill the Law. 9 For, (remember these examples) Not shall you commit adultery, Not shall you murder, Not shall you steal, Not shall you covet, and if there are any other commandments, in a word they might be summed up in that You shall love your neighbors as yourself. 10 The love of the neighbor means you never do anything bad/evil/wrong; that's how we fulfill the Law and it (is) in love that we do it. 11 And this you know, the time/season/age, that/what hour already for you to be awakened from sleep, for now is the time for salvation in which we have believed. 12 The night is far gone, but the day is approaching. Let us throw off/be done with then the works of the darkness, but let us put on/wear the work/deeds of light. 13 As in the day light hours, let us live/walk/conduct ourselves properly/respectably, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual impurity and indecency, not in quarrelling and jealousy, 14 rather we are to put on/wear the Lord Jesus Christ and do not make provisions for the flesh by giving in to its (baser) desires.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) Perhaps the movie, Pay It Forward, as reviewed by the Internet's Cinephyles, "directed by Mimi Leder (Deep Impact), transforms the movie screen into a broad chalkboard marked with valuable lessons. Based on Catherine Ryan Hyde's book by the same name, Pay It Forward offers a noble premise which speaks of the need to improve the world, and which redefines the responsibilities of teachers, parents and children. Pay It Forward effectively uses an economy of language, images and plot to expose --straightforwardly and truthfully-- complicated issues such as education, school violence, poverty, guns, alcohol and domestic abuse. "On his first day of school, Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment: The Sixth Sense) gets an unexpected first assignment: 'Think of an idea to change the world --and put it into action.' Seeking to inspire his students to think globally and unselfishly and to reconsider their role in the world, Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey: American Beauty, Hurlyburly) soon notices Trevor's unique potential. Yet when Trevor applies himself to the assignment and begins by inviting a homeless man into his home, his hardworking, single mother Arlene (Helen Hunt) is infuriated and questions Eugene's methods. Still, Eugene is impressed by Trevor's "Pay It Forward" class project, which dictates that if one person benefits from someone's act of good will, he or she must "pay it forward" to three more people, who in turn must pay another good deed to three other people. Although often disillusioned by the difficulty of putting such a faith-based plan into motion, Trevor's impaired relationship with his mother and a deep resentment toward his absent father provide the fuel for his dedication and desire to improve lives. When his efforts to help turn toward his own teacher, Trevor learns that to improve the world, people must learn to welcome change."

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