Sunday, February 23, 2014

Becoming Chrildren Of The Living God

An elder was asked by a certain soldier if God would forgive a sinner. 
And he said to him: Tell me, beloved, if your cloak is torn, will you throw it away? 
The soldier replied and said: No.  I will mend it and put it back on. 
The elder said to him: if you take care of your cloak, will God not be merciful to His own image?  (Extracted from The Wisdom of the Desert translated by Thomas Merton)

We all know and are convinced that God has no need of human beings.  Yet because of his merciful love, God created us out of nothingness so that we may share in his happiness, not only in this life, but for all eternity.  And because we are the work of God’s masterpiece after his own image and likeness, we can always be sure of his love and mercy to sustain us. 

What does it mean to bear the image of our Creator? 
It means to become like him in every way, so that our joy may be complete. 

If you are wondering what God is like and how you can become like him and be happy, make sure you spend some time meditating on all of today’s Mass readings where God himself gives us very clear images and instructions.
“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”
…You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart
…take no revenge and cherish no grudge…
…love your neighbor as yourself…

Jesus further instructs his disciples (that means all of us who wish to become children of God) to go an extra mile on this path of holiness and strive for perfection!
…offer no resistance to one who is evil
…when someone strikes you…turn the other cheek as well
…if anyone wants your tunic, hand over your cloak as well
…should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles
…to one who asks of you, give
…love your enemies
…pray for those who persecute you 

Because the Lord himself is kind and merciful, as the psalmist tells us…
…He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills
…He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with kindness and compassion
…He is merciful and gracious
…He is slow to anger and abounding kindness
…He does not deal with us according to our sins

We are the children of our heavenly Father, are we not? Should we not be like him in whose image we were created?

God’s instructions for these extraordinary acts of mercy and love are difficult but they are not impossible to fulfill.  As we press toward the goal of perfection, let us remember that God gives us his Spirit to dwell in us, making us temple of the Living God.  (Second reading)  God also gives us all the graces and examples needed to help us to become perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect.  Not that we are perfect or have already obtained this perfection, as St. Paul says, but we press on to make it own own, because Christ Jesus has made us his own.  (Phil. 3:12)  And whenever we find that God’s command of perfect love is impossible to achieve, all we have to do is look at the Cross of Jesus to learn this lesson of love and to find courage and strength to do so.

St. John the Evangelist tells us that God is Love, who has shown his love to us by sending his Son as expiation for our sins. And if God so loved us, we also must love one another.  When we fulfill this great commandment of love, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection in us. (1 John 4:10-12)

Father in heaven,
the loving plan of your wisdom took flesh in Jesus Christ,
and changed mankind's history 
by his command of perfect love.
May our fulfillment of his command reflect your wisdom
and bring your salvation to the ends of the earth.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

(Prayer from the Divine Office of the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

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