Homily 11th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C - Forgiven

Homily (Sermon) – Summoned and Sent

The Readings for Sunday 12th June 2016  or the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C:
2 Samuel 12:7-10,13
Psalm 31:1-2,5,7,11
Galatians 2:16,19-21
Luke 7:36-8:3
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.] 

We have recently started a dress down Friday at work.  Rather than the suits and ties people are wearing jeans and T-Shirts. It makes a nice change and makes Fridays feel a little different. The most fun for me is reading the T-shirts my friends are wearing. This week I had a good giggle at a T-Shirt claiming to compare world religions, then I thought a little more about what I was reading and it saddened me.

I won’t use the exact language that was printed on the T-Shirt because it’s not polite, but each faith was summarised in a single line, for example:
Taoism: Bad things happen
Hinduism Bad things happen again and again
Judaism: Why do bad things always happen to us?
Protestantism: Bad things won’t happen if you work hard
Catholicism: If bad things happen you deserve them

The parody of our faith and of many of the faiths listed on the T-Shirt corrupted the true meaning of the gospel, of Christ’s message for us, and yet that single line for most of my office was a good summary of our faith.

To see that corruption, an almost complete reversal of the real message we only need to look as far as todays reading. They are all about forgiveness. Forgiveness because of love, is the central theme of Christianity; it is the good news of the Gospels.

We find King David in our first reading being confronted by Nathan after David had secretly slept with a married women, fathered a child with her and murdered her husband to hush the whole thing up. David repents to God in front of Nathan and Nathan delivers Gods message “The Lord, for his part, forgives your sin.”

The rules David had broken were many, at least four of the Ten Commandments. The Law the Jewish people lived by was more than the just Ten Commandments, it was given to them by God after they left Egypt. But the Law is more than a set of rules, it’s a promise made between man and God, between the human and divine. It’s founded on the wish of a loving God, a loving parent to keep his Children safe and well in a dangerous world full of temptation and corruption. Keeping the Law wasn’t so much about following rules but about staying close to God.

The Law allowed us to know God, to grow up a little and take responsibility for our actions, to understand right and wrong. But the law ultimately also became a barrier to God. Human nature leads us all to walk away from God, to misbehave, to sin, to break the promise we make to live within God’s law. Paul in writing to the Galatians is pointing out that Jesus came because he loved us, saw what failing to keep the law was doing to us, He paid the price of our sins, He died for us, so that we could live eternally with Him. In our baptism we die with Christ and rise to new life with him, a life based on forgiveness and love.

As our Gospel reading shows us that a Christian life is not a life of fear and guilt, it is a life of joy, a life of happiness, a life of love. That does not mean that bad things won’t happen, but it does mean that when they do you will always have God by your side loving you, supporting you and understanding. Jesus after all was persecuted by his people, wrongly sentenced to death, beaten to within an inch of his life, humiliated in front of an entire town, stripped naked, nailed to a cross and left to die. He understands pain, rejection, loss and fear.

Our faith isn’t about guilt.
Our faith isn’t about retribution.
Our faith isn’t about perfection.
Our faith is about joy, love, happiness and forgiveness.
Our faith is about being accepted as imperfect and filling our lives with the joy of God.

So coming back to the T-Shirt, while it’s certainly not as funny, the line should really be “Catholicism: Rejoice, you are loved by God through all of the bad things that happen or that you cause to happen.” It’s a message many of us still find difficult to believe and it’s a message we should be taking out into the world.

My apologies for the language used in this image, but I though you may like to see the actual T-Shirt.

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