My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways, God says. The main threat to faith is human twisting of it to narrow ideology. The North is an example of that. Lets confess any ways we use the faith to close our hearts to others..
There’s a story from the apartheid era in South Africa. The black people were not let into the churches but had to receive holy communion out the windows. What a travesty of God’s church. It was man’s church not God’s. But that’s a temptation all of us succumb to. Too often we shape God according to our own thinking. That’s why in the Isaiah reading for today God warns us; “my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways”.
Too often we play God. We judge and condemn people according to our own prejudices and do it in His name. We reshape God according to our own thinking. Unfortunately religious people, I say this with shame, are often the worst in this regard. Jesus had to confront the Pharisees, supposed people of God, who would stone to death the woman caught in adultery. He said: “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. We must be very careful not to create a harsh God in our own image: “my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways”. God is infinitely broad minded, most of the time many of us are not.
Sadly, its often so-called religious people who most claim God for bigoted positions. Indeed, that’s what gives religion a bad name – from Bin Laden to fundamentalist Christians. I think of the north where people like Paisley would claim that all Catholics, including the Pope, are enemies of God. Only his small church, that preaches bigotry, worships the true God. In the same way Catholics can unjustly condemn the “black Protestants”.
In fact, if we want to even remotely come close to God, we must continually widen not narrow our thinking. We must have ever bigger hearts, ever more generous souls. That’s what scripture tells us today. The ones last into the vineyard received the same wages as the ones who toiled all day. They couldn’t understand, yet they got what they had agreed on, the master was not being unjust. Their narrow jealously and envy is what fuelled their anger. They hated the master’s generosity, just as so many strict religious people condemn those who don’t think as they do. In fact with God, all are equal, even sinners. If anyone repents he or she is welcomed freely, even at the last hour of the day. For God’s ways are not our ways; his thoughts not our thoughts.
But narrow mindedness are not confined to religious people, its a universal trait. Seculars and liberals can be just as narrow in their agenda, closed to God or religion for example, harsh in tribunals and media witch hunts, spiritually blinkered. God’s ways are not such either, they are broad as the heavens. All his children are loved equally to the last hour of the day.
Why be envious because he’s generous. Lets open our hearts and minds, be as generous and all-embracing as Christ. If we come remotely close to that we will be saints. As Christians that’s what we’re called to be. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Lets stop casting God in our own image, a harsh God. Lets obey the first commandment, the crucial one, and worship the true God in spirit and truth. Only his way can make us full, open, loving, generous and spiritually alive. For the cruel ways of the world fade to dust at last but Christ’s lord of truth, grace, beauty and generosity both for our wholeness in this life and our happiness forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people making his all-embracing love our spirit, lets profess our faith..
Prayers of the faithful
For the Pope and all the leaders of the church that they may reach out to all, especially other religions and beliefs, with the generous all-embracing mind and heart of Christ..
For our civil leaders that they may not impose narrow personal secular ideology in the name of pluralism but allow the faith and beliefs of all to be furthered to the full…
For our wonderful young people that they may not become pawns of the prejudice and narrow secular thinking of the times, but be open to God, and the wider aspects of the spirit and the truth he puts before us unto untold happiness in this life and the next..
For ourselves that in our homes, work places and communities we may not judge anyone but open our hearts and minds to all with the generous spirit of God and his Christ..
For immigrants to our country of whatever race, creed or color that they may find among us an open, accepting Christian spirit.
For the dead, that shaking off the narrow restrictions of this world, by the help of our prayers, they may come to the limitless and glorious mansions of heaven..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ, the Lord of all people and all the glories of creation, forever and ever amen.
There’s a story told of Mohammed Ali, the great boxer. When he came home from the Olympics with a gold medal he stopped at a restaurant to get a burger. But the man behind the counter said, “we don’t serve blacks here”. “I don’t want a black”, he replied wittily, “I only want a burger”. But he was hurt by these attitudes after all the glory he had won for his country. Lets oppose any such prejudices among us today..Hail Mary