Monday, April 4, 2011

How Does God Delight in You?

At 6 AM the storms rolled through Fenton, MO where I'm giving a parish mission, but no tornado. I preached at the 8 AM Mass and here's the gist of what I said. The readings of the day are Isaiah 65: 17-21 and John 4: 43-54.

When I was about four years old I was at my grandparents' house and was chasing my cousin Ronny around the dining room table. My father said, "Cut it out," and after a minute or so of obedience I started chasing Ronny again. I tripped on the rug, hit my head on the table, and started crying. My father said, "See. God punished you." This experience formed the way I saw God. I thought of God watching me, just waiting to catch me in some misbehavior and when He caught me, He would judge me and then punish me. God was policeman, judge, and executioner all rolled into one.

Our readings today give us a different image. Isaiah predicts that God's people will "be a delight," that God will rejoice and exult over them. One of the Sunday Prefaces during Ordinary Time says that the Father sees and loves in us what He sees and loves in Christ, His Son. That is because through baptism we have been joined to Christ. Yes, we are not perfect. Yes, we need mercy and healing. But in Jesus we receive that mercy and healing.

God made us for love, for union with Himself. He sent Jesus who performed "signs" like the healing of a servant in today's Gospel. John called this the "second sign" of Jesus. A sign points to something. The signs of Jesus point to two things: that He has divine power and that He has come to use that power for love, for healing. While physical healing is good, it is actually temporary because in the end we will all die. That's why Jesus enjoys healing people spiritually even more than healing them physically. He loves to touch the immortal part of ourselves and to bring mercy to our ailing spirits.

Most of us are "Half Empty People." You know the image: when you look at a glass, do you see that it's half empty or half full? Most of us tend to focus on what is missing, what is wrong. Today, why not take a moment to focus on the other part? Focus on the good that is there. Imagine God delighting in that good. Think for a moment: what are you doing that gives God delight? What is it about you that gives God delight? Savor that thought for a bit and be inspired to give delight to Him, always.

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