One of the things that can happen during Kairos is a maturing in your relationship with God. Innocence and simplicity are holy and wonderful, but as you become an adult – not just in your human life, but in your life of faith and as a Christian – innocence and simplicity must come to mean something deeper. Children are innocent and simple by nature, but saints are innocent and simple by co-operating with the grace of God. In order to move into this deeper meaning of innocence and simplicity, we have to change our minds about what we expect from God. Today’s first reading talks about two groups of people, those who deny God because things don’t go well for them from a worldly perspective, and those who fear God because they’ve experienced His compassion, His “healing rays.”
If we expect God to make us wealthy, to make us successful at school or work or in relationships, we will eventually be disappointed. We can want things to go a certain way in our lives, but we don’t necessarily know what is good for us. If we fear God in a healthy way, when things go wrong in our lives, with His help, we will find our way back to Him. What God wants most for us is a very radical and profound kind of healing. An immature kind of faith considers material success or power a sign of God’s favor. A mature faith recognizes that God Himself is the one who visits us in our suffering and sorrow. He heals us, but not superficially so that we could simply walk away from Him and forget about Him. We tend to focus on the particular ways that life has wounded us, and sometimes long for a simpler or more innocent time of our lives. We actually enter this life broken though: we start out in a difficult and wounded position. Most of the time we don’t find out that we are deeply broken until things start going wrong in our life on the surface, or even a bit below the surface. Our deepest brokenness is not our failed relationships, abuse we’ve suffered from others or ourselves, however, these are just the surface. Our deepest brokenness is that we do not know God, that we have become estranged from Him, and that we do not understand our relationship with Him. Jesus came to heal this brokenness – but He did it by Himself becoming broken. When we look upon Jesus crucified, we see what looks like the failure of a life, we see what appears to be the victory of injustice – innocence abused and mortified, bleeding out to serve the greed and viciousness of unholy men. What Jesus wants us to see in His brokenness is our own brokenness, failings, sins, and selfishness mirrored in His bruised and beaten flesh. He wants us to find Him, God, at the place of our broken hearts, our broken dreams, our broken hopes. Because then His mercy, like a powerful flood, can rush into the cracks of our fractured selves, healing, lifting, rinsing away grief, guilt, and sadness. “…for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.”
The healing of this deepest wound, the development of a relationship with our healer, that is what God will always provide for us when we pray. That is the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the healer, the consoler. As He heals us, He forms a relationship with us, and leads us to become healers for others, and to bring hope into the lives of those other broken people around us.
Those who are spiritually immature put much stock in temporal promises and serve God with an eye to such remunerations. Then, when the people of evil life prosper, they are very much upset.1
It was, in fact, of their purely material interpretation of the law and of their failure to perceive that its temporal promises were but symbols of eternal rewards that they broke into such rebellious resentfulness as to say, “He labors in vain that serves God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked sorrowfully before the Lord of hosts? Wherefore now we call the proud people happy, for they that work wickedness are built up.” It was such complaints as these that compelled the prophet to anticipate, as it were, the last judgment in which the wicked will be so far from even a pretense of happiness that their misery will be apparent to all, whereas the good, untroubled by even transitory sorrow, will enjoy a manifest and unending beatitude.2
You see that he who woke his friend at midnight demanding three loaves of bread and, persisting in his intention to receive, finds that his requests are not denied. What are those three loaves if not the nourishment of the heavenly mystery? If you love the Lord your God, you will be able to deserve this not only for yourself but also for others. Then who is a greater friend to us than he who surrendered his own body for us?3
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
When he says, “You who are evil,” he means “you whose mind is capable of being influenced by evil and not uniformly inclined to good like the God of all.” “You know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give a good spirit to them that ask him?” By a “good spirit” he means “spiritual grace.” This is good in every way. If a person receives it, he will become most blessed and worthy of admiration.4
- CITY OF GOD 28.35. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 306). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- CITY OF GOD 20.28. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 306). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.87. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 189). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 79. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 190–191). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.