Sharing The Gift Of Hope
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
27nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
A co-worker I once knew told me that only someone who believes in God can live a moral life. Atheists can do good things but in the final analysis they can’t be moral because they can’t obey a God they don’t believe in. “That’s why,” he said, “atheists can’t go to heaven: they’re never really with God.” I think there are several problems with this understanding of God, faith and morality.
Basic to Christian faith is the conviction that God is giving us life as a gift and wants nothing in return other than that we enjoy that gift to the fullest. The most dramatic indication of this is Jesus’ life and death. Believing that Jesus is the real presence of God in our midst, we see in him God’s disinterest in praise or honors. Symbolizing God’s complete commitment to our welfare was Jesus’ willingness to face execution rather than abandon his work of bringing hope to his people. Unless we understand that God is trying to give to us – not get from us, I don’t see how we understand the basic revelation of the Incarnation.
If God is trying to give us life, everyone who works to make life more secure and more full for others as well as herself is cooperating with God. From our perspective, God’s Spirit is at work in that person’s life. That is not meant to be haughty. It’s a view arising from our faith that life is the hope, the gift and the display of God’s action. The essence of morality is being in harmony with life.
This understanding denigrates neither God nor faith. Jesus revealed God’s commitment to us in order to strengthen our hope in life which the Creator had already given us. Jesus was God’s all-out effort to make hope possible. Our role is exactly the same as his: to do everything possible to increase hope in all we meet. This is the core of the gospel.