Tuesday, September 23, 2014

By what authority do I do these things?

In Matthew’s deceptively simple parable (Matthew 21:23-32), Jesus invites his adversaries to look at the future, as one not dominated by the arguments and opposition of the past, but one that is open to the movement of God’s spirit to heal, revive, restore, and make all things new.

The chief priests and elders do not accept this invitation. They have too much invested in the past…their identity has been defined by their own man-made rules that they have assumed the “authority” to enforce. They have become dependent on their established identity and they refuse to trade that past for an unknown future. But look at those who are “down and out,” the dregs of society, the tax collectors and prostitutes, who discover that any identity created by their past does not have to define or follow them into the future; they eagerly grab hold of Jesus’ promise with both hands.

Throughout our readings of Matthew these past weeks, Jesus makes this same promise to us. We are forgiven solely because there is a forgiver. We are loved unconditionally; we cannot earn or lose God’s love. No matter what we have done, no matter what may have been done to us, the future is still open. Whatever hurt we may have experienced or done in the past is, ultimately…in the past. We do not have to allow the past to define our future or our identity. We do not have to drag our past around with us and take it out whenever we feel the need to linger in its memory. We are more than the sum total of all that has happened to us. The future is open. It may be difficult and seem almost impossible to let go of the past and walk into the future. After all, the past is a known entity; it’s familiar to us, whereas the future is so open…it can be scary. But when we meditate on and invoke the prayer of Thomas Merton, we know that we are not alone: l will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me alone. No, you will never leave me alone. (Partner in Preaching, David Lose, 9/22/14)


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