Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday word, 16 Aug 2007

19th Thursday (16Aug2007) Josh 3.7-10a,11,13-17; Ps 114; Mt18. 21-19.1
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Topsy-Turvy God

God’s presence took many forms from the beginning of creation. In the beginning we know of only God’s voice, speaking with our First Parents, and also what they heard: the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day./1/

In Exodus God was present in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night...[which] did not depart from before the people./2/ As the people were to settle from their wanderings, they built a tabernacle to carry the tablets of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was God’s presence with the people. Crossing the Jordan into the promised land echoed crossing the Reed Sea when they fled Egypt: God’s presence allowed them to walk on dry ground.

God’s ways of communicating and being present culminated, of course, in the Word become flesh and blood, Messiah Jesus. Jesus communicated God in ways that comfortable people--like us--found objectionable because God did not fit their thoughts about God and what God asked threatened their comfort and status. Jesus made clear by deed that God’s clearer presence was--and is today--forgiving.

Forgiveness is the attitude of the church, the lesson of Jesus’ parable. His parable may grieve us because to forgive is not easy. Why can’t God be easy! Part of the reason is because God is topsy-turvy. We are like Alice when she stepped through the looking glass: in the kingdom Jesus proclaimed things are not as they appear.

The beginning of this 18th chapter of Matthew made it clear that in the kingdom, already present but yet to be completed, greatness is measured by smallness and the model of receiving the kingdom is a ./3/ Kingdom people are to show active concern for the little ones, receiving them and not scandalizing them.

Receiving and not scandalizing means kingdom people are to search and to save. Kingdom people do no less than Jesus did.

To begin to live as kingdom people requires we cease forcing God to fit into our notions, and we put aside our unforgiving ways. Kingdom living is not shown by our thoughts or by what we say but what we do as we live day to day. Kingdom living makes God present in the most humane and human way yet possible.

/1/ Genesis 3.8
/2/ Exodus 13.21-22
/3/ The beginning is Matthew 18.1-10
Wiki-image of the ark of the covenant bears no license.

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