11th Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

In the Christian tradition we can generally have two images of God. The first image is of God as a strict judge. This God seems almost to anticipate our sinfulness and is ever ready to punish or even condemn. It is with this image that we often believe, because of wrong decisions or actions, that we have removed ourselves from God’s presence, God’s care, God’s love. When things go bad we say that it is because of God’s punishment.

The second image is of a loving, understanding, and forgiving God – a God who proclaims in Christ that there is no thing, no thought, no word and no action that can ever separate us from the Father’s love. On the surface it is clear that the second image is infinitely more attractive. We want to be loved, not condemned. And yet, it is the first image that often has the greater hold on us. We can speak words of God’s love and yet in our hearts there is a whimper of fear.

Why do we think ourselves judged and condemned? Why do we think of the world as judged and condemned? In my own life I can worry that I’m walking down a path alone, absent of God. Therefore the living of the Christian life can be reduced to doing and saying all the right things. Our preoccupation in saying and doing the right things comes from a fear that if we do not do so, then God will be disappointed and angry and thus will forsake us. Despite the prevalence of fear within faith, it is absolutely foreign to the revelation in Christ. St Paul says, “We know that a person is justified not by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”

The woman in the Gospel certainly violated the law, but was certainly not condemned by Christ. Though not mentioned in the Gospel, we can imagine her having listened to the words that Christ had preached and having witnessed his merciful love with his interactions with others. Despite the hold that fear may have had on her, the love of God and the trust in Christ was overwhelming. And so she moved beyond the condemnation of others, understanding that we live not by rules but “by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Why do we do the things we do? Why do we labour with such generosity preparing the bazaar; why do we visit the sick and those who cannot attend Mass; why do we come together for prayer meetings, or any meetings in service of the parish; why do we give to provide food for those who are struggling? St Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Why do we do the things we do? We are the beloved of the Lord, we are the lovers of the Lord. We are not moved by fear. Rather, we are moved by love.

God Bless and Take Care!

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