Commentary on the Gospel of
I can remember distinctly the most poignant moments of discipline in my childhood, even the little moments like when I’d been especially cruel to a sibling and I got sent to my room for time out. More than anything, I remember the times when I really did wrong. There was one time in particular as a teenager I sat across the dining room table from my parents as they told me that I had completely lost their trust and that I will have some serious work to do to regain it
I am a pretty self-aware person who is often my own toughest critic. I quickly notice when I’ve made a mistake, hurt a relationship with another, or did wrong. In a lot of ways, I discipline myself after those experiences, not waiting for someone else to do it for me. There are times when I have lacked the compassion for myself that I more readily offer to others. So, when I spend time with God, God is a source of the boundless, infinite love that I don’t always have for myself. With God I feel rest, peace, centeredness in a body and mind that is often racing to do and be better by the own standards I’ve set for myself. In today’s first reading, the image of God being presented is that of parent or discipliner or judge. This image is difficult for me because I am already all of these things for myself.
I can look back at that dining room table experience of my teenage years with some clarity and see that my parents were teaching me an important lesson and that they love me. When I do wrong, now as an adult, and bring this to the primary image of God I pray with – that of the Loving God – God doesn’t immediately say “It’s okay…”. God says “You’re right, you did wrong. What are you going to do to bring healing, to return to right relationship? And know that in the midst of it all, I love you and I am here with you.” My parents didn’t stop loving me when I broke their trust. But I had to show through my actions that I wanted to heal that relationship.
This is what I believe the first reading is ultimately getting to – how, when we do wrong, when we sin, do we seek the work of healing in order to restore right relationship with God, family, friends, community? And what do we need from God in these moments? Maybe we do need God who is going to help us see the wrong we've done and give us encouragement for reconciliation in these relationships. Maybe more than anything, like me, we all need God who is going to still love us immensely in the midst of the wrong and the work for healing. In these times of sin, what do we need from God in order to return to right relationship?
Let us pray. Loving God, You created each one of us in Your image and to grow into our unique personhood in order to be in relationship with You. You created us in community and with freedom, for that we give thanks. When we have done wrong, help us see the pain we have caused and be with us as we seek reconciliation in the relationships we have hurt – with You, with family and friends, with our wider community. Your Love for each of us is great, may we strive to respond to this immense Love with love in everything we do. Amen.