God's Righteous Dilemma
Proper 6 (year c)
Psalm 5.1-8, 1 Kings 21.1-21a, Luke 7.36-8.3 & Galatians 2.15-21
Galatians 2.19 & 21 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. . .
I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
Meditation: "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." (Luke 7.41-43)
Reflection: "It is nearly impossible for most of us to comprehend a God who forgives without merit, who loves us anyway, who keeps calling us home to the fullness of life that only God can give." - Michaela Bruzzese
Consider: We love law. After all, it is what keeps us honest--working together in a spirit of fairness. Without it there would be anarchy.
Interestingly, the descriptive, terms for heresy means to depart from the commonly agreed upon orthodoxy--the conventional, mutually accepted beliefs, standards, and norms, that we all adhere to, and understand in order to act morally within our shared culture. We have come to believe that heresy is a departure from the law.
In our Psalm this week, we have another pleading with God to uphold the Psalter because he is good, assured of God's mercy toward him. But he ascribes hatred to those "evildoers" (or "heretics") who "lie and boast" and are his enemies. Are they law breakers? Heretics? And what "laws" do they break?
Good questions, but what about Jesus?
In our gospel text, Jesus (a heretic Himself) reaches beyond just law-keeping, to a higher Way, that of senseless mercy, and in so doing, He forces us to wrestle with a dilemma; What is Justice in light of Mercy? Is it God's morality to just keep the orthodoxy, or to find the way, at all costs, to reach beyond law to a place where there truly is nether Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female; Where our Pharisaical personal rightness is superseded by a deliberate refusal to ascribe justified hatred, opting for unjustified mercy.
Now, when we cannot pay for our law breaking (or law-keeping as it were), having been given cancellation our own dept, how appreciative will we be? (How much have you been forgiven?) Will we love more; will we honor Jesus in the face of a religious culture that wants to personally embrace law-keeping, feeling as though we don't need to do more, or move beyond our simple ability to keep law; that we have simply not violated anything? In what ways should we honor Him? Perhaps by following Him into His work in the world... by this example, touching, and being touched by a religious outcast.
Are you justified because you have obeyed the orthodoxy (reflected by a very little love toward those who are not like you), or do you have a sober judgment of yourself in true appreciation of a very big dept cancellation--exhibited by a very heretical mercy, love, and appreciation, for those God loves? Have you just been religiously right, or sacrificially--heretically--reaching to love with senselessly mercy?
Incidentally, Jesus and this woman are both heretically reaching to save a learned Pharisee from the death of personal religious correctness.
In God's holy perfection, He is not wringing His hands trying to figure out how to be Just and Merciful to His world. In our humanity and sinfulness, we do... Let's try to think in His terms; let's rethink the term Gospel...