If there is no Gospel, what is there?

Advent 2 Saturday

Romans 15:13

“Yet the God of hope may fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that your hope might be complete through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Paul concludes this epistle reading with a fine prayer, wishing them complete joy and peace, saying “the God of hope,” that is, the God who gives these gifts only through Christ and in Christ. Yet we have stated earlier how this takes place: When we recognize God’s will, how he offered up Christ to bear our sin, as we too should do. The more deeply we recognize this will, the stronger faith, hope, and love will grow. This is why we always must preach, hear, and think about it. These things come about by no other means than the gospel alone. This is why the apostle’s meaning here is this: “God, who works hope by means of the gospel, may grant you grace that you may teach and believe the gospel well from which you know Christ most profoundly.” From this gospel you will then also derive all joy and good conscience, as from a common possession, and then also peace among each other. For this is the joy and peace, not as the world gives it, by feeling and experiencing, but by faith. For you neither see nor feel the one who is your possession from whom you derive joy and peace. In the world, however, you will feel the absence of peace and the absence of joy. Yet if you learn that Christ is common to all believers and equal to all, you will have good peace. For there is nothing one can begrudge the other where all are equal in wealth. See, this is what is called joy and peace by believing or in faith. From it follows furthermore the abundance of hope, that is, that hope always increases. Suffering and persecutions also help toward this increase in hope. For hope does not increase by setting aside adversity. In fact, it is increased so that hope does not rely on our power, but consists in the power of the Holy Spirit that helps us and strengthens hope, so that we do not flee or fear the downfall of the world but stand firm until death and overcome all evil so that it must flee and leave us alone. This is called hope, not in human weakness, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, all of which must take place by means of the
gospel, as he says in Romans 15:4: “Through the patience and comfort of Scripture, we have hope.” For where there is no gospel, there is no hope, no comfort, no peace, no joy, no faith, no love, no Christ, no God, nothing good. We see this clearly in the miserable spiritual, or rather unspiritual, carnal estate of the priesthood although they pray much and celebrate the mass often. May the God of hope, patience, and comfort graciously protect us from this. Amen.

St. Louis ed., 12:52-53.

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