Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Sunday Word

Brothers and sisters:
Through faith you are all 

children of God in Christ Jesus. 
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul recalls that "before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed." Call this the "tougher justice" approach - an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, following the divine law that Saint Paul describes as a "disciplinarian" for us. "But now that faith has come," he goes on to explain, "we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith."

In Christ Jesus, we are all children of God. Jew and Greek. Slave and free. Male and female. Victim and offender.

All one in Christ Jesus.

This is tough justice. It's tough because it doesn't feel fair. It doesn't seem right to lump together good, law-abiding citizens and bad, law-breaking criminals, and say that in Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith.

But listen to what a woman named Wilma Dirksen has discovered, just a few years after losing her daughter to an abduction and killing. She realizes that many people believe that there are certain people who are bad, and if we get rid of them we'll have a good world. "But the Bible says, for good reason, that if we extend our hand to our enemy, we will eventually find that our hand is extended to ourself." She confesses, "That's what I found when in the end I had to face myself."

All are one in Christ Jesus. All. One. Good and bad. Saint and sinner.

It's an idea that benefits us. We ourselves are a forgiven people, so why is it so hard to believe that what works for us might not work for others? If God forgives us, requiring only confession and repentance and a restored life that bears witness to our repentance, then why can't such an approach work between ourselves in the human family.