In the movie Bruce Almighty, there is a scene where Jim Carey shouts to the Heavens, “smite me, Almighty Smiter!” It's a funny moment of the movie, but it’s also representative of a view that many have of God. There are many who feel fearful of or distant from this God that we imagine is "up there" documenting every one of our wrongdoings and waiting to condemn us to hell.
While our God IS a just God, today's readings show that God’s approach is the complete opposite of that! They reveal that God actually delights in every opportunity to show the infinite depths of His love and mercy.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us about a servant that dutifully waits up for his master to come home after a party. And the master is so happy that the he turns around and waits on the servant. In a time and place where we are not really familiar with the master/servant relationship, it may be hard for us to wrap our heads around how absurd that is. But essentially waiting up for and waiting on the master is in a servant's "job description". We are all familiar with the fact that there are certain roles and responsibilities we are given when we accept a position, and we are expected to perform those duties. We don’t get special treatment just because we did what we were supposed to do - that’s table stakes for KEEPING the job. So, in this parable, the servant is just fulfilling the basics of his role. But the master - or in our world, maybe the manager or the boss - is so happy that he wants to serve the employee! It’s as if he was eagerly awaiting any opportunity to reward the servant. And that is how God is! It can be overwhelming to think about the high standards God has for us. But we should never forget how much He loves us and how overjoyed He is to get even the tiniest demonstration of faithfulness to Him. As Christian writer George MacDonald put it - “God is easy to please but hard to satisfy”. God always wants us to reach our full potential (which is a tall order) but He rejoices in the smallest steps we may take toward that goal.
The devotion is further demonstrated in the first reading. St Paul explains how, as one man - Adam - brought sin, and therefore death into the world, one man - Jesus- reversed that, and brought redemption and life into the world. But it’s more than a net neutral set of actions. St. Paul says, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”. God used this opportunity to bring even more good out of a situation than the bad it produced. Despite Adam's and our continuous rejection of God, He takes us back and over and over again, with much joy every time. He even sent His Son to be sacrificed to bring all sinners, including the ones crucifying Him, back into right relation with God. It is easy to love someone that loves us. It is far more difficult to love someone that hurts us. The Fall, then, actually provided God with the opportunity to show just how dramatic and extreme His love is.
Dear Jesus, help me to not give up in my pursuit of holiness, knowing that you are cheering me on along the way. Help me to reach out to you for help in my spiritual battles and to seek and accept your loving mercy when I have wronged you.