Contemplating the Gospel: What kind of God do you believe in?

10th Sunday after Pentecost

 
1 Corinthians 4:9-16 1 Corinthians 4:9-16
 
9 For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour.
11 Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode;
12 And we labour, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it.
13 We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now.
14 I write not these things to confound you; but I admonish you as my dearest children.
15 For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ.
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Matthew 17:14-23
 
14 And when he was come to the multitude, there came to him a man falling down on his knees before him, saying: Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic, and suffereth much: for he falleth often into the fire, and often into the water.
15 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
16 Then Jesus answered and said: O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
17 And Jesus rebuked him, and the devil went out of him, and the child was cured from that hour.
18 Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said: Why could not we cast him out?
19 Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.
20 But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.
21 And when they abode together in Galilee, Jesus said to them: The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:
22 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall rise again. And they were troubled exceedingly.
23 And when they were come to Capharnaum, they that recieved the didrachmas, came to Peter and said to him: Doth not your master pay the didrachmas?
 
Commentary: 
 
Faith is trust. But our faith must be trust in the real and true God, if we are to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). What we ask for and how we ask can reveal something about the God we believe in.
 
Some primitive peoples believe that if you say certain words a certain way, then the gods or spirits must do something. “Open Sesame!” and the door opens. “Grant me my wish!” and the genie complies. And when we say our prayers without thought, without conversion of heart, we show that our faith is sometimes not too different. It is tempting to place our trust in a tribal God, one who wants to punish our enemies and make our lives comfortable.
 
But the God we profess at the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist), the Son of God that we remember surrendering himself for the life of the world (John 6:51), is God who dwells with us (John 1:14). Our Father is the Father of all, visible and invisible. When St Paul asked and begged God to remove the “thorn in my flesh,” the Lord said “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
 
Our God is so powerful, that he does not hesitate to appear weak in order to show his grace and his love. And he shares this strength with us.
 
In our broken bodies, in illness or old age, we may still allow the power of Christ to dwell within, like the woman who—completely bedridden—was still grateful and smiled to all who visited and cared for her.
 
In our broken relationships, we may still allow the mercy of Christ to thrive as we extend forgiveness even when we have to avoid enabling or encouraging the poor choices of those we love.
 
From our broken honor, we might—like St Paul (1 Corinthians 4:9-16)—allow ourselves to be weak in the eyes of others, so that the power of Christ might be strong in our lives. The people of Corinth were no different from us today in America: a land of opportunity, we praise and follow those who are successful in business (money) or entertainment (fame), and we despise or ignore those who have little or nothing.
 
Our God seeks out the lost, the broken, those who are ashamed. Jesus came to invite us to share in merciful love. Accept the gift and follow his example: the gift is forgiveness, mercy for us, mercy to share; the gift is the brother and sister we see on the street, the one in most need of mercy.
 
 
Fr Jerome, OFM, is a Franciscan Friar from Holy Dormition Byzantine Franciscan Friary and Retreat Center in Sybertsville, Pennsylvania. Online at:  https://www.facebook.com/byzantine.franciscans
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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