Friday the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor. 1:25). We are familiar with Paul’s speech at the Areopagus, which seems to have been a watershed moment for him. Never after that meeting do we find Paul speaking of faith in terms of a philosophical debate. He presents faith as a personal relationship with God and not as an academic research project. He states it quite simply in his Letter to the Philippians. “For me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). Paul was trained by one of the most renowned teachers of the time, Gamaliel. His encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus changed his life. As the risen Lord spoke heart-to-heart with him, he sought to speak heart-to-heart with the people he encountered.
The notion of entering into a personal relationship with God is rooted in the Jewish Scriptures. The prophet Isaiah wrote. “Do not be afraid. I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine” (Is. 43:1). Our redemption was purchased by Christ’s self-sacrificing death on the cross. Our hope is rooted in the fact that Christ endured punishment he did not deserve to pay the price of the punishment we did. God, in His foolishness, allowed His Son to become a slave to free us from our slavery to sin. The Eternal Word died on the cross, and by his death conquered death. Having risen from the tomb, death no longer had dominion over him. He who was condemned for our sake does not condemn us. Remember Christ’s compassionate conversation with the woman caught in adultery. “Woman, where are they? Hasn’t anyone condemned you?… Neither do I condemn you. You are free to go. Just, don’t sin anymore” (Jn. 8:10-11).
People seem to be binging on guilt, blame, and shame. Compounded with this, some people are mounting their soapboxes of self-righteousness to harass anyone who does not agree with their point of view. God’s method is quite different. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (Jn. 3:17). The Beloved Son, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells said, “The Son of Man came to seek and find that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). He who is closest to the Father’s heart makes tangible the compassion of the Father. “The Son can do nothing of his own accord. He can only imitate what he sees the Father do” (Jn. 5:19). The image most strongly imprinted upon his heat is that of the Father, beating the bushes in the garden of Eden in search of Adam, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9). Like Father, like Son, the Good Shepherd scourers every nook and cranny searching for the lost sheep. “And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and carries it home” (Lk. 15: 5-6a).
By prayerfully pondering the Scriptures, we enter into God’s mind and see the world as He sees it. By abiding close to his heart, we feel what God feels and experience some of his delights in the work of his hands. The Master of the Universe came down into our depths desiring to draw us up to his heights. Although he had every right to demand a pound of flesh in payment of our debt of sin, the beloved Son chose to pour out his blood in full payment of the debt. Because of his indomitable love we have been purchased as a people uniquely his own. Lucky for us, God does not mind looking foolish.