Reflection for Thursday, July 1, 2004: 13th week in Ordinary Time.

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O'Keefe, John
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It would seem that our texts today wish us to reflect upon the consequences of sin and God's power to both prosecute and forgive. This is certainly true. In the passage from Amos we learn of a prediction of wrath coming upon Israel because of its sinfulness. Likewise, in the Gospel account the miracle that Jesus performs suggests a connection between the paralytic's affliction and his sinfulness. In the first, ignoring the prophet's warnings brings affliction. In the second, forgiveness of sins brings healing. God has power to do what God wills. |Such a line of reflection can bear much fruit. There is, after all, a connection between what we do and the state of the world. Nations and peoples can, like individuals, fall into sinful patterns that, over time, come back to haunt and debilitate. Israel's ancient exile in Egypt stands as a warning. We should also not be too quick to dismiss the connection between human suffering and sinfulness. There is a way in which living in a broken world is "bad for you." We do not easily escape from the clutches of sin.|Still, I find myself drawn to another line of interpretation as I read these texts. I am most struck by the observation common to both readings that God's message is resisted by humans. In Amos God wants to help, but no one is listening. In Matthew God wants to heal, but this seems to enrage the religious authorities. According to this line of thinking, the emphasis shifts from the consequences of sin to the human quality of resistance.|What are we to make of these scribes? They resist the goodness of Jesus because of their preconceived notions of what is and is not religiously appropriate. Their sin is not that they do not believe, but that they do not allow God the freedom to be God.|I wonder about my resistance. Where are the points in my life where God is challenging me to conversion, like Amos challenged Israel? Where are the points in my life where I receive God's good news like an affliction? According to my spiritual director, paying attention to resistance is one of the great requirements for growth in holiness. I suppose I should consider it a good sign that I understand the resistance of the scribes.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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