February 27, 2017
Monday, Week Eight, Year I
Link to the Readings: Sirach 17:19-27; Psalm 32; Mark 10:17-27.
The fact is that, though blessed by God’s light, we sometimes fail to walk in it. But for those with eyes to see, even our faults reveal God’s goodness by giving us the experience of his mercy. Sirach 17:19-27 assures us, “To the penitent he provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope.”
Why? Why is God so willing to forgive, to make it so easy to return to him? Why doesn’t he just give up on those who give up on him? We do. It is because, even though we are in the image of God, He is infinitely better.
How great is the mercy of the Lord, his forgiveness to those who return to Him! The like cannot be found in humans, for not immortal is any child of man.
Ben Sira is not denying the immortality of the soul, although in his time the Jews may not have known much about it. That is not his question or focus. What he is pointing out is that God relates to people from a different perspective than ours.
People can threaten us. We perceive them as able to diminish our happiness, take away what we think we need or want to keep, restrict our activities, even cut short our lives. So when people injure us or threaten to do us harm, we want to exclude them from our lives, ostracize them, lock them away in cages, even execute or exterminate them. This is because we recognize our existence as fragile, incomplete and tenuous. We are fixated on protecting it.
Not so for God. God doesn’t protect his life; he shares it. He doesn’t have to defend his existence; he gives existence to all that is. He sees everything from a different perspective:
Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High? …They glorify the Lord who are alive and well.
God’s only concern is to give life, enhance life, help every person to grow to the fullness of life. He is pure giving because there is nothing he needs to receive or defend. He is not afraid of losing anything, because he has everything.
Except our total surrender to his love.
God doesn’t “possess” our free will. He wont force it. He wants to win it. But he knows the only way to win love freely is to give love unconditionally.
So no matter what we do to him he responds with love. “To the penitent he provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope.” No matter where we stand in relationship to him: near or far, whether we think we are in favor or in disgrace, “Return to the Lord and give up sin, pray to him and make your offenses few.”
Few. Diminish them. We don’t have to be perfect overnight, wholehearted in our first response. “Turn again to the Most High and away from sin.” Turn. It’s a matter of direction, of fundamental desire, of mind set. Just accept the goal and start. Life is a journey. So is love
This is the first call of the Good News. “In those days John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’…. Jesus “left Nazareth and… began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Metanoieite! Change your minds and hearts. New life is at hand. Accept it.
Meditation: Which direction am I facing? Do I need to alter course at all?