Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 24, 2019
I had a visit from the now adult child of one of my oldest friends. I hadn’t seen him since he was in middle school. When I opened the door to greet him, as illogical as it sounds, I was expecting to see a kid in his early teens rather than the fully grown man who stood there smiling at me. I honestly would not have known who he was had we bumped into each other on the street.
But when he came in and sat down and began to talk, I started to laugh. His voice, mannerisms, and gestures were identical to his father’s. If I had closed my eyes, I would have sworn that I was talking to my buddy. There were many other striking physical similarities as well. He is truly a “chip off the old block.”
At the same time, however, I recognized undeniable features of the young man’s mother. The image of both of his parents, so completely mingled, but clearly present in this now mature person made me feel as if I had two people sitting across from me. That experience helped me to appreciate the linkage of this Sunday’s Epistle with the Gospel.
St. Paul writes: Just as we bear the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
Like Adam and Eve, we come from the dust. Formed by our Creator’s design into flesh and blood men and women, we bear a striking resemblance to the first parents. We eat, we sleep, we feel joy and also experience pain, fear, and loneliness. We have appetites that demand to be satisfied, but we always seem to want something more. We fall in love and chose partners and bear children. We try to be good, but often disobey…and then we feel regret. We sin…we die.
At the same time, however, encased within these frail, flesh and blood earthly bodies is a “chip of the Divine.” Completely mingled with our human characteristics, but clearly present, are markings of our Divine origins. Although more easily identified in some people than in others, our ability to think good thoughts and our emotions that enable us to feel compassion, empathy, and sympathy are all characteristics of our good and loving God. The Eternal peeks through and shows itself even in our finite and short-lived flesh and blood bodies.
Moreover, it is God’s plan that the dominant characteristic that stands out in each of our voices, mannerisms, gestures…in the way we live…be less “earthy” and more “heavenly.” And so, God sent Jesus into this world. At the same time, fully human and fully Divine in every way, Jesus was unmistakably The Son of God. The Church offers us an explanation for this sacred mystery in one of the Prefaces prayed at Mass before the Consecration:
For You so loved the world, that in Your mercy you sent us The Redeemer, to live like us in all things but sin, so that you might love in us what you loved in Your Son, by Whose obedience we have been restored to those gifts of Yours that, by sinning, we had lost in disobedience.
Simply put, God sent His Son into this world so that those who believe in Him would look less like Adam and Eve and more like Jesus. And, the Divine becomes our most prominent feature, when our voices, mannerisms, gestures…the way we live…is loving, forgiving, and filled with peace. When we live as The Lord teaches, we truly are “chips off the Eternal Block.”