What a Life for June 27, 2007

Reverend Monsignor Emile J. Fossier
June 25, 2007
U.S. weekly oil and gas rig count down by 2
June 27, 2007
Reverend Monsignor Emile J. Fossier
June 25, 2007
U.S. weekly oil and gas rig count down by 2
June 27, 2007

Most of us learned some unfortunate lessons about God when we were young. Our elders taught us to think about God in human terms. Maybe that was the only way we could learn about God. However, God is not made in our image and likeness. We cannot put God into our own little “boxes.” If we do, the results will be perverted.

Every child knows what judgment means. It is something that happens when you are bad. Too many kids live with the awareness that they are always one small step away from punishment. When we finally come up against that image of God as “Just Judge of the Universe,” our worst fears about God are often confirmed.

Contrast that perception of God with the experience of King David, a person who clearly did not live up to his responsibilities. His deplorable choices were just begging for some serious divine judgment. Nor was David able to hide his transgressions the way many of us tried to do as children and still seek to do as adults.

David was found out by God’s own messenger, Nathan, and it looked like the curtain was about to fall. Nathan accused David in very concrete terms: he was a murderer, an adulterer, and a person who did not appreciate all the good things God had done for him. What else could David say except, “I have sinned,” and wait for the roof to collapse on him. However, no collapse, no guilty sentence was handed down. Nathan’s unexpected reply is, “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin.”

Saint Paul says works – any activity or any religious exercise on our part – cannot buy us justification. We can think of justification as the equivalent of a “Get Out of Jail Free” ticket. Another way of putting it is “we cannot buy our way into heaven by the good things we do.” Debt is debt. As one preacher put it, “If you miss the bus by five minutes or five seconds, you still missed the bus.” The only way to get on that bus is to get forgiven, which turns back the clock on our debt.

Jesus will forgive anybody just about anything. That is a precious gift in a world that prefers judgment and condemnation rather than forgiveness. We see many people in our world who are so eager to pass judgment. The spirit of judgment goes all the way back to our childhood. When God is the judge, however, all prisoners stand an incredible chance of being released.

God’s offer of forgiveness kicks in when the sinner acknowledges it. God loves us so much, and if we love much, God will forgive us. Forgiveness is not only something we seek. God has already accomplished it through Christ. All we need to do is accept it – and love.

The following poem is entitled “Folks in Heaven”:

I was shocked, confused bewildered

As I entered Heaven’s door,

Not by the beauty of it all,

Or the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven

Who made me sputter and gasp –

The thieves, the liars, the sinners,

The alcoholics, the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade

Who swiped my lunch money twice.

Next to him was my old neighbor

Who never said anything nice.

She, who I always thought

Was rotting away in hell,

Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,

Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal?

I would love to hear your take.

How did all these sinners get up here?

God must have made a mistake.

And why’s everyone so quiet,

So somber? Give me a clue.”

“Hush my child, they’re all in shock.

No one thought they’d see you!”