The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2017 – Cycle A
Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 69; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33
Wednesday I walked into the church. All the pews were removed as was the altar and ambo. The side nave walls had been taken down. Holes were present in the walls where the niches were holding their statues. The room was relatively empty. But then, there on the back wall was the only sacred image left in the church, the crucified Christ. It was as if Jesus was reigning over the…was it the deconstruction of our church or the renewal of our church? …or both?
In its present state, isn’t our church an image of sin?
Sin as a life with holes in it. Parts of us incomplete. An emptiness. Broken pieces tossed into a dumpster. And yet even if we allow ourselves to spiritually become this ruined image, God, like the crucified Christ on that back wall, is still quietly present to us reigning over our lives. The crucified Christ is the result of our sin but the crucified Christ is also God’s response to our sin. This death as the source of our redemption. The crucified Christ reigning over the renewal of our life when we open ourselves to allow God’s grace to work within us. And even this openness to God’s grace is our response to the invitation of God’s grace. God always initiating as the source of our healing and salvation.
Consider how the acknowledgment of our sin, whether at Eucharist in the Penitential Act or before receiving Holy Communion, in asking the forgiveness of another person, or in confessing our sins during the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the source of our spiritual renewal and redemption. This act of acknowledgment, this reception of grace gives us the strength of the Spirit to continue living in God’s life. Or as Paul states, “the gift, (of God’s grace,) is not like the transgression, (the sin of humanity).” For how much more does the gracious gift of Jesus Christ overflow upon us? Grace will always abound in comparison to our sinfulness.
Friday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. An image of Jesus whose heart is wounded by a crown of thorns, the result of our sins, and engulfed in fire, his passionate love for us. The face of Jesus is never portrayed in a harsh manner but in a manner of invitation often with arms outstretched toward us. Jesus as the tenderness of God offered to us. Thus John’s Gospel teaches, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” [John 3:17]
At every Eucharist until the completion of our renovation project there will be an intercession for our spiritual renewal. I hope and strongly encourage each of us to make this our daily prayer. That’s what the purpose of all church buildings, parish offices and activities is to support, the continual renewal of God’s people so as to go out and make disciples of all the nations. [See Matthew 28:19]
Let our project be an image of the spiritual journey we are all called to embark upon moving from acknowledging our sin to freedom in Christ. It will take possibly 3 months, 90 days. It will be like moving again from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost.
And as we open ourselves to God’s grace in this sacred time and struggle with acknowledging our sin, seeking forgiveness from God and each other and receiving wholeness and renewal in the Holy Spirit, let the image of the Christ crucified reign over us.