SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, VIRGIN AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH (MEMORIAL)
In love he destined us for adoption.
Adoption in the ancient Middle East didn’t work quite the way it does in modern, first-world countries. In Greco-Roman culture, legal adoptions were almost always the adoption of adults in order to secure an heir of one’s own choosing. Adoptees in Roman society were expected to respect and honor their new parents. They were given all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of natural-born sons.
Jewish adoptions were a little different and not only because it was mainly minors who were adopted. As a good, morally upright king provides for his weakest subjects, Jewish adoptions were meant to provide material support for orphans and to expand the family workforce, since children learned and helped with their family trade.
For both Romans and Jews, adoption was a life-altering, life-saving act. It was a change of fortune and a profound rescue from a bad future. So for Paul’s readers, both Jews and Greeks, Paul’s words about spiritual adoption would have had many different connotations.
Jews would have thought about God’s covenant with Israel that rescued them from slavery. They would have thought about how the Scriptures extolled the one who cares for widows and orphans. Greeks and Romans would have thought about the complete acceptance given to a legal adoptee—his past erased.
From every angle, Paul was trying to help his listeners understand that through Christ, we experience a whole new life. We don’t just receive the “inheritance” of eternal life; we get to live as forgiven, grace-filled sons and daughters right now. We gain a loving family in the followers of Christ around us. We get to participate in the “work” of our Father to fill the earth with his goodness. We are freed from the slavery of sin and death.
When someone is adopted, every corner of his life is affected—where he goes, how and with whom he eats, and what he can look forward to in the future. That’s your story. You are an adopted heir of all God’s promises. You are a new creation!
“Father, thank you for adopting me into your family. Help me to embrace this new life you have given to me.”