Monday, 21 February 2011

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Isaiah 49:14-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

I can much more easily believe that God exists than that he should love me. Now don’t be alarmed, I do know that God loves me, I have had ample proof of that over the years, but what I am saying is that God’s love for humans has always baffled me more than the truth of his existence.

Somehow I cannot begin to imagine that there is anything in us humans that should cause God to love us the way he does. Perhaps I could handle something more like the relationship an elderly person has with his pet dog or cat, or perhaps the attachment a child has to his parrot, but not this extravagant ‘passion sans frontières’ kind of love.

And yet, every word in Scripture bears testimony to the fact that this is precisely the kind of love God has for us. As a regular practitioner of Lectio Divina I can testify to this fact. Any page of any book of the Bible can be read as God’s unrelenting desire to tell us of his love, over and over and over – ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’

I guess the trouble I and people like me have is that we think God’s love is not fittingly or reasonably based in anything within us. We see all that is wrong with us and limited in us and we say, ‘Naah, he couldn’t love us. He would be mad to love us!’ Well, we are right and we are wrong.
  • It is true that God’s love is not fittingly or reasonably based in anything within us. God’s love is based in his goodness, not ours.
This is why we should all learn to say with confidence: Jesus, I trust in you! - not in my goodness or gifts or even, my sins, but I trust in YOU!

When I see my prayers and sacrifices and good works piled into an impressively large heap I should remember that Jesus, and only Jesus, is my Saviour. And when I see my sins piled into an equally impressive heap I should never despair of his mercy. I should acknowledge my sins and his power to save and say: Jesus, I trust in you.
  • God’s love seeks all that he recognises as from himself and so he loves us because we are made in his image.
In each of us, no matter how sinful, there is the spark of the divine; we are made in God’s image. Like a parent who sees the mistakes and waywardness of their child there is both a recognition of self and of potential. Love seeks the flourishing of this potential and lives in hope of a return of love shown forth in a change of life.
  • Therefore, for the sake of his life within us God loves us unconditionally and never turns from us.
God sees ‘all that is wrong with us and limited in us’ far more clearly than we do and yet he loves us. No matter what our sins God loves us as we are – wholly and entirely – ­because we belong to him. You are his child and his love for you goes infinitely deeper than your sins. So don’t ever make a god of your sins, a god who condemns you to hell. Turn to the true God, the one who loves you, and tell him: Jesus, I trust in you! – I trust in your mercy.
Today’s liturgy of the word is bursting at the seams with the words and deeds of this transcendent love of God.
  • The entrance antiphon proclaims: He has led me into freedom. He saved me because he loves me.
  • The opening prayer implores: Touch the hearts of all men with your love that they in turn may love one another.
  • To those in desolation the first reading proclaims: I will never forget you.
  • The responsorial psalm exhorts us: Take refuge in God all you people. Trust him all times. Pour out your hearts before him.
  • St Paul in the second reading reassures us that he has discovered that God is to be trusted: I will not even pass judgment on myself … the Lord alone is my judge.
  • And finally, every single word in the Gospel today urges us to commit ourselves to trusting God alone, to let go of fear and worry, and to trust our heavenly Father with all our heart.
In these strange days of fire and flood and cyclones and civil unrest and global change I can only invite and encourage you to read this Gospel over a few times in the coming days and to let Matthew’s words draw up this trust from deep within you until you can say: In God alone be at rest, my soul; for my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock, my stronghold, my fortress: I stand firm.

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