Not To Condemn – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily June 6, 2020

“Today we celebrate this great feast of the blessed Trinity inviting us to reflect upon the mystery of God himself, the mystery of the unfathomable love of God, the truth that is within God the truth that is within God.  It is that revelation of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit that truly is distinctive of Christ it is only through Jesus that we have that awareness of the Trinity, the three persons in one God.  Our readings today though do not focus so much upon the Trinity itself as it does those attributes of God.  What is God like?  And that is an important question for us.  What is God like?

I think we all have our own images of God and a lot of those things are created in our own minds and we are called to a deeper truthfulness about God, a deeper truthfulness about God a deeper understanding about who God is and how God relates to us.  I’m sure I’ve quoted this before, but I had a scripture prof when I was in the seminary who one of his favorite sayings was, ‘God created man in his own image and likeness and ever since man has been returning the compliment.’  And there’s a lot of truth in that.  We do kind of create God according to our image of what we think, but God wants to reveal himself to us so that we can respond to God as He is and so often God is seen as that almighty judge that one who is going to condemn, who is going to send people to Hell.  That’s kind of the image of God that we’ve grown up with and that’s so unfortunate or that God is inaccessible that he’s so beyond us that he’s not near us at all that God is not someone is interested in us kind of just a force out there rather than calling us into that deep personal relationship and so we see some of those qualities of God that are reflected in those readings today and the first one is from Moses when God appeared to him in the burning bush and it says, ‘The Lord, a merciful and gracious God.’  A merciful God, a gracious God, slow to anger, not a God who’s up there with vengeance, slow to anger rich in kindness and alway faithful.  That’s who God reveals himself to be and it is our invitation to respond to that God the God who reveals himself even in the old testament as being kind and merciful, patient with us and understanding.  And then that great revelation in that micro-gospel of John 3:16, ‘God so loved the world (not that he hated the world, God so LOVED the world) that he sent his only begotten son, not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him.’  And I think we need instead of saying world there we need to say ourselves.  God so loved ME that he sent his only begotten son not to condemn me but rather that I might be saved and have life everlasting.  Once again, a God with tremendous love a God with tremendous caring and if judgement is there it is only because we have done the judgement of rejecting that love of God that salvation in Christ Jesus and so we are challenged by a God who loves you and me so much that he became one with us in Christ Jesus that he embraces us as we are and loves us to become ever greater.

And in that second reading today, I think this is almost a reading for our nation during this time in which there has been so much pain, so much animosity, so much violence, so much racism, so many different things going on where St. Paul there writes, ‘Rejoice’ first of all have some joy in your life in the midst of the challenges, rejoice but then he says, ‘mend your ways’ maybe we as a nation need to mend our ways.  We need to look at things differently.  Mend means to go back and to bring some healing about to bring some reconciliation about to allow that touch of love to change things. ‘Encourage one another’ rather than discouraging, encourage one another.  ‘Agree with one another.  Live in peace.’  I think that’s a wonderful challenge for us as a nation and for us as citizens of this nation to stop and think, ‘Where do I need to change?  How can I be more loving?  How can I be more peaceful?  How can I truly reflect that truth and love of God more fully that our nation might be renewed and that we might have ever greater respect, reject violence, truly respect each other as children of the one true God?’”