Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 15, 2019

My first and only attempt at refinishing a piece of furniture was a rocking chair. I have neither the patience nor the skill to do what so many others do so with such craft.  They are like artists, aren’t they!?  They can take what many of us would see as junk and see a treasure that lies beneath, restoring it to its original beauty as if it was created anew at their hands.  

Restoration: whether we are talking about furniture or houses or jewelry or art work is dependent upon skill and patience and perseverance and, quite often, simple love. 

Before the layers of a painting can be pulled away and before the joints of furniture can be secured and before the hinges of a house can be oiled, someone has to be able to see that it’s worth it.  Someone has to be able to believe that there is more value than what is outwardly seen.  That’s the real art.  That’s the real skill.  That’s the real love.

I am grateful, for my sake and for yours, that God has such a gift:  to see beyond our brokenness that we have incurred, past our layers of stubbornness that we have painstakingly applied to our lives, underneath our coats of pride that we have worked so diligently to defend, behind our shame that we so dutifully hold on to…God sees something worthwhile.  God sees something that worth holding on to, worth restoring.  God sees us, not as we are, but as we could be.  And God says:  I can do something with that.  Just give me a chance.

God sees us as we were created, in his image.  He sees us as redeemed by his Son’s death and resurrection.  God sees us as temples of the Holy Spirit, gifted by God’s own breath of divine love.  There buried beneath the corrosion of years of sin and selfishness God sees the work of His hand.  And God says:  I can work with that.  Just give me a chance.

The Old Testament paints a picture of God needing to be convinced that his terribly unfaithful people are worth saving.  But that’s not God, that’s their understanding of God. They were convinced that God wouldn’t love them after their sins, so they developed a theology of God before whom they had to plead and beg.  How could God love them after what they said?  How could God restore them after what they did?  How could God forgive them after they turned away?  They just didn’t get it.  If they had believed in the love of God in the first place, they never would have been so unfaithful.  But God said:  I can work with you.  Just give me a chance.

St. Paul, by his own admission, was a blasphemer and persecutor and arrogant.  But God said, I can work with that.  Just give me a chance.  Tax collectors and sinners, prodigal sons and daughters - God sees what we can’t in ourselves and often can’t see in each other.  We are worth seeking out.  We are worth restoring.  We are worth dying for.  We are worth saving. 

And if we believe God is not giving up on us, maybe we wouldn’t give up on ourselves and each other so easily, either.

 

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