Homily for Thursday, July 17, 2014

Readings for Today

It is not unusual to find people whose image of God is as a harsh and mean God. Perhaps it is the hurt that has happened in their lives, the experiences of deep and tragic losses,were the type of abuse and experiences that lead to deep shame. Such persons can also find those who profess to believe who only serve to deepen this difficult image of God.

What is our image of God? In answering this question, there are a few assumptions we can make. Since we are made in God’s image and likeness, then there has to be something in us, we are at our best, that teaches us something about God. But what does it mean for us to be at our best? Is it when we are harsh, rigid, seeing the world only in black and white ways, an image of God who is a judge? Is it when we believe that “anything goes”, that there are simply no reasons for God to get mad at us, the image of God as a teddy bear?

Both extremes would be unfortunate and wrong. We believe that God has deep and abiding love for his people. More than anything else, God desires us to be at our best, reflecting the love that calls us to greatness. At the same time, the mention of sin and forgiveness in today’s readings reminds us that not everything goes. There is right and wrong.

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Homily for Saturday, August 4, 2012

Readings for Today

Yesterday we were left with a real cliff hanger.  Jeremiah was surrounded by the priests, prophets, and all the people, and we were left with the harsh words, “He must be put to death!”  And today’s first reading begins with the same harsh words.  But when Jeremiah reminds the people his words come from the Lord, it is the start of a new way of seeing.  However, it is not the words of Jeremiah alone that seems to sway the people.  Rather, it is the reminder that previous prophets who suggested bad things would occur if changes were not made that caused people to take pause.

Being told what we do not wish to hear is difficult indeed, especially if it means having to admit that we were wrong.  It can be difficult to hear, much less recognize, that we need to change our lives.  It can be harsh indeed to be called out for living an immoral life.  In fact, we are often like the people when we hear such things.  We wish to shoot the messenger, call into question the truthfulness, the integrity or the reliability of the messenger.  We go to great lengths sometimes to protect our beliefs and our way of life.

But we need to consider no more than the first words of Jesus’ message.  Change!  Repent!  We do not have everything together and it is not simply a case of finding people who only affirm us.  In the rule of the Benedictines, the monks are warned when someone enters their community and is critical of some aspect of life or another, that it may have been God himself who sent this very person to the monastery for the purpose of correction.

So today’s first reading puts a challenge squarely in front of each one of us.  What are we being called to change in our own life?  What unpretty things must we face in ourselves?  Where is it that we have not accepted fully enough the grace of God in our hearts?  What areas of sin need to be pruned from our lives so that we can become more like Christ?

While our initial reaction may be to kill the messenger, let us remember the words of the first reading, that we may have the grace to hear God’s call to conversion from wherever it comes.