for Sunday, September 18, 2011
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. -- This week's readings are
about how different God's way are from our ways. Far too often we think of
God as a sort of super human, Someone who is greater than we are but still
comprehensible. It seems that God does stoop down to us and does let us
know Him in some vague and unclear way and we mistake that knowledge for a
There are stories and accounts in the Jewish Scriptures and in our
Christian Scriptures that have always pointed out that we cannot comprehend
God nor understand God. We get just glimpses of God and the reality is
beyond anything that we can imagine. God does not want to scare us - at
least that is the message that comes to us - and so communicates to us in
ways that are more or less normal and human.
All of this can lead us to be mistaken about God and to think of God as
one of us, but just better. The first reading today, from the Prophet
Isaiah, sets before us this difference. It is an infinite difference and
because we are finite we tend to see even infinity in finite terms.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Philippians, states simply that
if we live in this life, it is for Christ, but that dying is gain - because
in dying we come to the living and infinite God.
Today's Gospel from Matthew is trying to help us understand God's infinite
mercy, pardon and forgiveness. We are uneasy with a God who gives the same
reward to everyone, no matter how much they have done or not done. We tend
to think of this as unjust. If we stop for a moment and realize that we
are most likely among the very last to come to the Lord, we can give thanks
that He still gives us that same wage. It is only when we begin to think
that we have labored all our lives that we might have any feeling of
jealousy about those who come late.
Today we get just the smallest glimpse of God's mercy and forgiveness.
God's compassion and love for His human creation. What joy and delight
this small glimpse of God's love can give to us. Truly the Scriptures tell
us over and over that we humans really deserve only to be ignored by God
and left to perish in our sinfulness. Yet God in His goodness takes pity
on us, takes on our human reality and comes to save us from our sins.
The story of Scripture, the teaching of Scripture, is that God is
constantly seeking us and inviting us to turn away from our sinfulness and
to receive His Divine Life. May this Sunday celebration help us to do that
in some small way.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: