Month of Sundays: Defeat

But, when the full time came, God sent his Son–born a woman’s child, born subject to Law– To ransom those who were subject to Law, so that we might take our position as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

In 387 B.C. the Gauls came down from the north and defeated the Romans at the Battle of the Allia. That cleared the way for them to take over Rome itself. After negotiations, a “one thousand pounds’ weight of gold was agreed on as the ransom of a people” of Rome. But some of the Gauls brought false weights to try to up the definition of 1000 pounds. When a Roman tribune objected, “his sword was thrown in addition to the weight by the insolent Gaul, and an expression was heard intolerable to the Romans, ‘Woe to the vanquished!’” (Both quotes are from the Roman historian Livy.)

The Romans came back from this humiliation. They learned a few things about war from their Celtic opponents, good fighters from the Battle of the Allia to Bull Run. The Romans’ return was effective; by the time Our Lord came into the world, all of Gaul was under Roman rule, as were most of the lands around the Mediterranean.

Part of the “full time” described in the passage above was the rise of Rome. Rome imposed on its subjects a common language (two, really, Latin and Greek, the language of the New Testament.) It made travel and commerce safe over a wide area. It made both the easy dissemination of the gospel and the growth of the church possible in the years following the Resurrection.

The Jews had their own comeback. Hauled into Babylon, their captors bullied them into singing their praise and worship music, then made fun of them: “It was there that those who had captured us demanded that we sing. Those who guarded us wanted us to entertain them. They said, ‘Sing a song from Zion for us!’” (Psalms 137:3) But the Babylonians had their day of reckoning, and the Persians allowed the Jews to return to the Promised Land.

Our Lord is a God of second chances. That’s the meaning of being “born again.” Those who are called according to his purpose will have a comeback.

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