Reflections on the Readings
June 21, 2015 - Year B
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ransomed, Healed, Restored, Forgiven!
Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
My title comes from the first verse of one of my favorite hymns: Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven… "To his feet thy tribute bring; Ransomed, healed, restored forgiven, Who like thee His praise should sing?"
Grace is not cheap. The violence Christ endured reminds us that grace is not cheap, that no one is excluded from his outstretched arms, that we all stand on level ground at the foot of the cross. Even for Dylan Roof, who massacred nine persons this past Wednesday night at Emmanuel African Methodist Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, there is room at the cross. Here's the bottom line. At the foot of the cross, none of us get to point fingers of contempt and accusation at one another and our common prayer is, "Deliver us from evil." For we were all dead in trespasses and sins, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that continues to work in the sons and daughters of disobedience, among whom we once lived. (Ephesians 2:2-3)
At the Easter Vigil we hear the Good News:
"O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam
which gained for us
so great a Redeemer!"
If any one is in Christ, he is a new creature, a new creation, a new Adam, a new Eve. Ransomed! Healed! Restored! Forgiven! That's the Good News! Why? Because through the first human family sin entered the world. And because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve we all enter this world as sinners. The theological term for this is original sin. Even little Johnny and Susie born this afternoon entered the human race in need of a Savior which means that original sin is a state and not an act. In union with the whole human race Johnny and Susie and Juan and Maria need to know that while we were yet sinners, born and unborn, Christ died for us! And that's the Great and Good News and the reason we bring our children to Jesus in Christian baptism.
In Christ our past no longer defines us. The old is passed away and the new has come. We still wrestle with temptations and the allure of the past, and the glamour of sin, but no longer in our weakness, but in the strength of Christ's love for us. This is why St. Paul can explain to the Church at Corinth that no matter your past, "You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Christ filled the raging waves and blowing winds with his peace. He fills us with his love and peace and breaks the tormenting and debilitating power of sin in us so that we can shout: "Ransomed! Healed! Restored! Forgiven!" Because everyone who is in Christ is a new person!
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com