Solemnity of the Most Holy Redeemer (Third Sunday of July)July 21, 2019
How did you experience God in your childhood?
I am sure that each of us has our own experiences of God. Our God experiences and even image of God during our childhood would somehow paint the picture of God’s image as we grow old. Indeed, our early thoughts about God would somehow color also on how we relate with Him.
To share with you a story, when I was growing up I was introduced to a God who was rather strict. God was someone that everybody should fear. I was told that this God punishes a naughty boy and rewards a good boy. As a young boy, I tried to be good to avoid God getting angry at me and punish me later on. Unconsciously, I became fearful to God.
What motivated me then, to do good was out of fear from being punished rather than out of love. I imagined God like an old man holding a stick who is ready to strike a boy who has been naughty. This image of God definitely haunted me. This was my very experience also at home from my parents who were ready to strike me with a stick whenever I become naughty and disobedient.
However, later on when I became conscious of my faith-relationhsip with God that I realized that God’s true character is not the one that I first thought of. Experiences would actually tell me that God is kind and generous, loving and forgiving.
This is the kind of God that our first reading and Psalm proclaim respectively. Our first reading told us how Yahweh made an everlasting covenant with His chosen people. God makes the initiative to relate to us in love. Our Psalm even reminds us about the faithfulness of God that we should rather not fear God but trust Him because God is our strength.
This kind of revelation tells us that God “relates” to us in the most personal and intimate way. This is what we affirm today as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Redeemer.
The scriptures tell us that the God who created the world is a God who hears the cry of the poor and the entire creation. This God is neither apart nor alien to us but a God who is near and close to us. This God is not “somewhere out there” but rather “here with us” who tirelessly journeys and lives with us from the beginning.
Thus, despite our sinfulness, stupidity, and unfaithfulness to God and to each other, God never surrenders on us. As St. Paul says, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
As I deeply experienced God with my family and friends, I came to know and became confident that God loves, and in His kindness, God reveals his gift of presence to us in the most intimate way where we could feel Him. When we allow God to reveal himself to us, then God brings healing and reconciliation. This is what our Lord Jesus did.
Our Gospel reminds us that God “so loved” the world that he gave his only Son. In our pains and struggles in life, God stays with us. With Jesus, God walks and speaks to us. God even laughs with us and cries with us and to the point of suffering and dying for us.
Though God is almighty and all-powerful but God never threatened us with His power of control and dominance. But rather, God builds intimate friendship with us, showing care and compassion, offering healing and salvation. This is basically what this feast of the Holy Redeemer is all about. It is about relationship with a God who desires to be with us and to share life with Him.
That is why, we who believe and experience God’s loving and redeeming concern in our life, are also called to express that in our life – that we too will also live in friendship with others, by showing concern and love, offering healing and peace.
We have to be watchful when we gain power over the others and tend to exercise control and dominance over them. Because most of the time, we will tend to abuse the weak and that instead of building bridges, we build walls, instead of developing friendship, we promote fear. As a result, we will be inclined to be indifferent to the struggles of others and intolerant to the mistakes of those who are around us. This is not what God wants us to be.
God wants us to make friends, to show our affection and concern in the way Jesus makes us his friends, shows his affection and concern to us so that we may have meaning, purpose and joy in this life.
Now, as God’s own people, we may become God’s instrument of healing and reconciliation in our community amidst suffering from war and killings, hate and indifference, hunger and poverty caused by conflicts, selfishness and greed for power. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR