C Cycle – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 19
1 Cor. 12:31-13:13
In the movie “A Few Good Men” one line spoken by Jack Nicholson about truth can be applied to our relationship with God. Tom Cruise, attempting to get to the bottom of a hazing death of a marine was told by Nicholson, “Truth, you want the truth, you can’t handle the truth.” That statement applies to our relationship with God and our interaction with God and it began when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. They wanted more truth than they believed God had revealed to them.
After being with Jesus for a while, Jesus said to his disciples “who do you say I am”, and their responses reveal they did not know him but finally Peter inspired by revelation identifies Jesus as the messiah. What is our image of God? Are we like the disciples with a concept of God’s holiness but his true nature is unknown to us? The amazing thing is God has told us who he is and every prophet in the Old Testament reveals him to us using the same words God used on Mt. Sinai as he reveals himself to Moses.
“The Lord, the Lord compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished” (EX. 346-7 NIV).
How much revelation do we need to begin to believe we have a God who desires to lavish his love upon us? Jesus tells us “…if you, then, though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (Mt.7:11). Come to me you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). We could stand here for an hour quoting from the Old Testament and the New Testament of God’s desire to lavish his love upon us. The issue is not how badly God desires to give it to us it is a question of do we trust him enough to allow him to love us into wholeness. Can we handle the truth about ourselves and how we have failed to allow God to reveal himself to us?
The Catholic Catechism dealing with our fall from grace in section 397 tells us “…because of a lack of trust in our creator we abused our freedom and sinned thus all subsequent sin is disobedience toward God and a lack of trust in his goodness.”
The truth is out of love God created us and desires and intimate relationship with us. Adam and Eve experienced that intimacy with God and yet they were tempted to believe God was withholding something good from them. This mistrust is a common story in our relationship with God. Jesus tells us how not understanding God’s nature impacts us in the parable of the Prodigal. The older brother was told, “everything I have is yours” and yet he never realized what he had access to is the very thing we have access to -“everything the Father has is ours, if only we ask.
Keep in mind our Church’s official teaching in the Catechism is telling us we have a lack of trust in God which invaded our hearts with the sin of Adam. Don’t you see us in Adam’s response to his sin – he hid from God. He saw his sin, covered himself with a fig leaf and avoided contact with God. Today we cover ourselves with a fig leaf of external spirituality and we avoid the greatest thing God offers us his love and compassion. God desires us to know the truth and that is we must allow him to change our hearts by pouring his love into us. When that happens, we will understand what Jesus meant when he said the Spirit will teach us the truth about sin – it is forgiven and forgotten.
God is love and we are avoiding everything good about God because we avoid his promises because we see our sinfulness. God is slow to anger rich in kindness and mercy, he is the love described by Paul to the Corinthians. All those things Paul wrote about love is describing the God who identified himself to Moses. God is not angry with us and his response to the prodigal shows us the heart of the Father is to restore us not condemn us.
There are so many lessons in the three readings we have heard today but we do not want to hear the challenging words of God. We would rather have our ears tickled and in doing so are rejecting Jesus just as the people in the Synagogue did that day. We are like Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration we fail to understand what is going on, but we are in awe of Him and we want to stay where we are looking at Him instead of allowing the truth of His words to penetrate our hearts. We like them want Him out of our sight the minute His words challenge us to see what we are doing is not seeking Him. We want what he offers us without inviting him into our hearts.
There is a real issue of faith being presented to us today. Do we trust God will for us even knowing our failures? Do we trust Him enough to stop trying to be holy and allow the Spirit to transform our hearts so they burn for God, desire God, hunger for God and seek to be in His presence?
If the answer is yes then we must do what he tells us and that is to listen to him, invite the Holy Spirit to stir within us the flame of God’s love and stop seeking holiness and start seeking His way to holiness.