Saturday, June 11, 2016
My son Owen (who is 4 – or as he reminds me 4 ½) had his tonsils removed just before the Memorial Day weekend. My wife and I did our best to prepare him for what to expect before, during and after the procedure – having some experience with our second son – Jonah. Even with all the preparation, we could not get him to take the pain medicine after surgery to give him some comfort, as well as the ability to drink and eat without even more pain. So for days, we did our best to comfort him knowing that if only he took some kid's Tylenol he would feel much, much better. We said to each other: that strong will is going to pay off for him in the future, but now he just needs to trust us and take the medicine! It occurred to me that this is often true in our relationship with God. Here is our God saying: I love you and I will do anything for you; I have a plan for you; I want you to know the freedom, peace and joy that I have to offer you – just trust me! But too often, we can't see beyond our fear, pride, insecurity or embarrassment to experience God's love and mercy. Yes, we sometimes know and reject this love; but more often we are so self-consumed that we can not see beyond ourselves to see what God is offering us. As if God is a parent holding their child in the middle of the night trying to comfort him or her, begging us to please take the medicine that will bring you what you most desire – what we most need; and we – the child – ignore or resist or even fight this gift from God. Fortunately, God persists! Today's readings capture the many ways in which we, as humans, do just this – in which we are not open to God's love and mercy in our lives. King David, in today's First Reading, exemplifies our tendency to choose self first – not God or others. While we read that he was later sorry for his actions, David put first his own lust, pride and disregard for life. Paul, in the Second Reading, highlights another way in which we close ourselves off to God. The temptation is to either reject rules completely, or to blindly follow rules and forget why the rules are there. Here Paul is reminding us that it is all about a relationship – the laws guide and help us in this relationship, they are the means, not the end. The Pharisee in today's Gospel demonstrates another trap we build for ourselves: convincing ourselves that if we act a certain way, hang around with the "right" people and avoid the "wrong" people, then we are doing okay – and certainly better than others. Finally, we don't know what exactly the woman in today's Gospel did to make her so despised – whether she was a politician or a telemarketer; but that did not matter any more to her, and it certainly did not matter to Jesus. She was only focused on one thing – not her past, not her fear or embarrassment – only on God’s love and mercy. Remember, God knows us and wants us to be in relationship with him; he sees through all the junk and distractions that keep us from seeing what is waiting for us: God’s love! What is it that is most pressing in your life at this moment? What is heaviest on your heart and in your mind? Work, finances, relationships, health, loss – or all of the above. I suspect that if you are like me, it took but a second to draw to mind whatever it is. I invite you this week to model the woman's approach to Jesus in today's Gospel. She did not hold back her trust, her hope, her love for God; even with all her baggage – she was able to move beyond embarrassment, pride, doubt to give herself over completely to Jesus. She experienced, in that moment, his love and mercy and must have been completely overwhelmed with peace and joy – this awaits us, too! As you begin and end your days this week, offer this pray: Lord, I know you love me; I may not understand why this challenge is before me, and I am not certain that I can endure what is before me; but I trust that you have a plan for me and will give me what I need to do your will. May God bless you.
Posted by Jeffrey Fortkamp at 2:42 PM