4th Sunday of the Year (B) 2018

Today I continue with what I said last weekend.
Jesus of Nazareth was sent by the Father to bring us ‘Good News.’
The Good news is that I am a child of God. God is intimately involved in my everyday life. God is totally dedicated to my physical and spiritual welfare. As a child of God I will inherit the Kingdom of my Father. This involves resurrection from death and sharing in the Eternal life of my God.
This is good news.
But that is not all. All the above is a free gift. It is not necessary to win or merit or gain it. It is a gift given to, or offered to, every human being by the Creator, with no strings attached.
Like every gift ( big or small ) it can be accepted or rejected by the intended receiver.
This is the teaching of Christianity. This is the Good News brought to us, from the Father, by Jesus of Nazareth. It is crystal clear. It is transparent. it is straightforward. it is unambiguous.

Today we speak about acceptance or rejection of the Good News. We speak of my response to this Good News. Whether I accept or reject the Good news, the consequences for me are basically unknown and unknowable in any detail.
At this stage we find that what is crystal clear and transparent becomes muddied and opaque. This is the result of human imagination and casuistry. Human beings, be they the authors of Scripture or theologians, try to second guess God. A typical example is the idea of Heaven and Hell. We human beings demand reward for what we consider as doing good and punishment for what we consider as doing bad. We transfer or attribute our own attitudes and biases to God. This is called anthropomorphism. Another example is the attributing to God, in the Bible, of the characteristics and outlook of medieval monarchs and rulers. Hence eternal life with God if you obey Him and the fires of hell if you disobey him. This is all very understandable concerning us human beings but must not be attributed to Our God.
If you want to cling on to the idea of heaven and hell as places of reward or punishment then at least try to understand it as accepting or deliberately rejecting a precious gift.

God is totally free. Because we are made in the image and likeness of God we too share in this freedom. This demands that we have choice. We can accept or reject.
Recently there is a lot of talk about robots especially human like robots or androids. Imagine a marriage partner who is an android. There would be total obedience, total compliance, total dependability. There would be no rows, no inconsistencies, no surprises, no resistance, no compassion, no concern, no love.
God does not want androids. God wants the hurly burly of human relationships. The joy and sorrow of love and rejection. The heat and cold of human interaction.
If I exercise God’s gift of free will to accept God’s gifts then I am using the gift which God gave me. If I exercise the gift of free will to reject God’s gift then I am also using the gift which God gave me. So why should God punish me for using his gift of free will?

I hope I have given you some idea of the futility of trying to second guess God. Once we leave the crystal clear waters of the ‘Good News’ we just stir up mud and have no idea where we place our feet.
So I recommend that rather that wondering about and questioning the ins and outs of the Good News ( Which will only leave you as wise about it as you are now) we concentrate on our response to the Good News. This is the heart of the matter. This is what religion is about.
This again is very simple and crystal clear. It is what my normal, everyday, natural response to any gift is – gratitude. Gratitude gives birth to respect, appreciation and affection which can grow into love. And who knows what delights love will lead to.