C Cycle – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 22
God speaking to us through the Prophet Isaiah tells us he delights in who you are. You can see this delight of love as you watch married couples standing before one another and pledging their love and commitment to one another. You can see this delight as parents hold their babies after they are delivered. All they can see is the beauty within the other and the purity of that moment. We unfortunately know our own hearts and remember those moments when we fail to live up to God’s standards. The real issue for us is what happens when we do fail and how we think that failure impacts how God views us. Does his delight in us turn into disgust and disappointment?
Ask any parent and you will discover their love for their child never changes when that child fails to meet the standard of behavior they have established. Yet it is also true that failure does disappoint because we expect compliance with the standards established. That emotion of disappointment creates within us a nagging belief that God can also be disappointed in us, even as we believe he still loves us.
Would you believe me if I told you God is never disappointed in us, never stops loving us and is always trying to move our hearts to open ourselves up to experience that look of delight on his face. The real issue for us is for us to grasp the purpose for which God created us in his image. To understand how the sin of Adam changed how we relate to God, but it never changed how God desires to relate to us.
Instead of immortality we now experience mortality; instead of peace we now experience war and division; instead of a perfect world we now experience extremes of weather; instead of never wanting we now experience a desire for things which never satisfy. We know that is the world we live in today after the sin of Adam. The issue is we want to get back into God’s grace. To do that we strive to please him but are left feeling as if we have not done enough to obtain his favor. But if you take the time to read the scriptures, you will discover God promises us restoration not by our earning it but by his plan to restore us. If we take the time, we will discover God’s desires us to experience and live the impact of salvation. To see ourselves as he created us to be.
I think one of the issues we struggle with is our understanding of what it means to be in God’s grace. What we define as “righteousness” before God. We somehow have developed a set of standards to define what God requires, a set of rules or rituals. If you think about it, the day God made a new covenant with Moses we began living by a set of rules so that we might be acceptable to God. God said that day we would see marvels no one has ever seen before (EX.34:10) and we have been deceived into believing the law would do that for us.
God that day on the mountain said to “observe the commandments” he would give that day. We have been trying to observe them ever since those commandments were inscribed on tablets of stone. We use them as a measure of “righteousness” and when we do not measure up, we judge ourselves as unrighteous.
Why do you think God gave us the commandments is a question we should ponder? I love that word, ponder, we heard it in last week’s gospel as Mary pondered all those things in her heart. We too should move beyond only hearing the words of the Gospel, to reflecting on what God is trying to convey to us about who we are and how we can live a life pleasing to God. If we do that, we will discover God wants more from us than just keeping the commandments.
Why would God give us commandments if we are always a delight to him? God sees within us the image of himself, he implanted within us. He sees only the good in all his creation even as we cover it and us with sin. If you think about it, the commandments can only define sin they cannot help us overcome sin in our lives. If we could keep the commandments, we would become before God without the need of a savior. Therefore, the commandments are a mirror, reflecting to us our sinfulness and our need for a savior. Unfortunately, we use them to put makeup on ourselves to cover our sinful hearts. If we could keep them, they create another problem for us – spiritual pride. We become puffed up and judge others as unworthy for their failure and weaknesses.
We need an encounter with God just like the one Moses had on the mountain that day (Ex. 34:29). That encounter changed him, and he reflected the glory of God. We too need to encounter Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to truly grasp the way God sees us. If we could do that, then our lives would proclaim the glory of God our savior. We would depend on the Spirit to teach us the truth of salvation; open for us the scriptures causing us to open our hearts to receive the love of God and the show us how to live as disciples.
We are his delight because Christ restored what we lost with the sin of Adam. We are his delight when we allow our hearts to burn with the fire of his love and when we depend on the Spirit to reveal to us our need for a savior and not depend on the law to define who we are. Christ came to pay the penalty for the sins we committee in the past, in the present and will commit in the future. God promised to send us the Holy Spirit to change our hearts so we would automatically follow his laws and statures because the Spirit will reveal to us who we are and how we are to live.
If you do not feel like God delights in, you then you have been lied to by someone who desires to keep you from feeling the arms of the father enfolding you. If you do not feel like God delights in you, then someone who does not want you to see the smile on God’s face when you come into his presence has deceived you into believing you are unworthy of his smile. If you do not feel like God delights in you, then you need more than ever to go before him and ask him to give you the living water he offered the woman at the well. Or give you the embrace he gave the prodigal son, or the forgiveness he offered those who nailed him to the cross.
None of those experiences will be felt by you by following the law, but an encounter with Christ can just as it did the disciples on the road to Eumaeus.