Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: Bulletin Column, Cover art

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Reflection based on MT 10:26-30

June 21, 2020

Dear Followers of Jesus,

 Many of us fall into the trap of thinking we need to save ourselves. We may believe in a punitive God who will not love us until we get our spiritual, sexual and emotional acts together. When we fall into this notion of God, we are never good enough, no matter what we do, no matter what we say, no matter how we pray, no matter how much we pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps. This notion of God only leads us into despair and hopelessness. So many people have been raised in the Church to think they are not good enough for God. They also live with shyness and an uncertainty about living and serving in the Church.

Instead, what we need to learn is that God desires us and in God’s endless flow of mercy, we come to new life over and over again. The one thing we need to hear more of in the Church is that God invites us to be with him, that mercy and kindness is the core of God’s fidelity toward all creation. God is waiting for us to be invited into our desperation, our anger, and our conflicts. Our sacramental life in the Church is not based on God’s anger, but on the mercy that overflows from the Trinity into our hearts.

On this side of the grave, we are to seek God’s love. We also need to let our sense of unworthiness be cleansed with a new attitude. In our gospel today, Matthew 10:26-33, we hear of God’s tenderness toward us. As all creation, we are brought into the joy of life in God. Even the sparrows find flight, and food and song, and nest in him. We are worth more than many sparrows, so our fear needs to melt away. We belong to God, even down to the very number of hairs on our heads. Our sin is just an excuse to grow closer to the burning mercy of God that forms our lives, our consciences, and our patterns of love.

This notion that we live in the tenderness of God’s love, embraced within his arms of mercy, is difficult for many people to comprehend or to enjoy. Somewhere along the line, we are told of God’s wrath, and that anger has formed our spiritual lives and how we live on earth. In my ministry throughout these years, many people feel they are never good enough to come to God. So they either give up and leave the Church or stay and grow even more bitter and angry toward their own lives and even toward those they love.

So if we have been told we are never good enough to enter into relationship with God, then how do we find our way to freedom and forgiveness? Well, first we need to find our home in God through profound prayer, through silence, within scriptures, through acts of charity, and perhaps through spiritual direction with a competent director. Life is too short to hold on to an image of God that is destructive, that zaps life from our souls. Instead, we all need to be brought into the understanding that we are worth more than many sparrows. The very reason for our lives on earth is to learn to live with God who created us to become the people we are meant to become.

This gospel is a beautiful companion. We come to know who we are and whose we are when we acknowledge God before others. God will care for our stubbornness if we believe he is not an abusive parent, but our Creator who desires the best for us. Our understanding of our spiritual journeys has consequences for how we view people around us, as well as how we view the world. If we believe that God is punitive, then we take that action upon ourselves and judge others who are different from ourselves. We may place this notion of God’s action on people’s race, their beliefs, and all the ways we think people are different from our norm. We are not God’s spiritual police in world, but we are to live among people who are doing the best they can in life just as we are.

The gospel says to us today that all secrets will be known, that nothing is concealed. Perhaps the secret that will be revealed is a new image of God. God’s tenderness toward all creation is sheer gift and hope for us. As followers of Jesus, we desire to be touched by his embrace of forgiveness and his desire to dine with us at Eucharist.

“So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

 God give you peace,

Fr. Ron

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