26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

TOUGH LOVE

By Tina Sibbald

There is some thorny stuff in this week’s readings. Actually there have been themes over the past several weeks, which when woven together have resulted, for me, in a season of intense self-examination and seeking God. There is much here to digest about how we choose to live our lives, and whether God is conspicuous therein.

On first reading, there are several directions one could journey to develop a bulletin reflection. I read, re-read, and prayed about these scriptures, and waited. The phrase “tough love” emerged.

Imagine that you have a toddler, blissfully oblivious to his mortality, who darts out onto a busy road. You react quickly and scoop him up out of harm’s way. What’s next? Well, I imagine he’s about to be the recipient of your scolding once you catch your breath. Why? Because you love him. Amos delves into judgment and punishment; Paul exhorts Timothy to flee from evil and pursue righteousness; Luke juxtaposes obscene luxury and abject poverty with a parable. The common denominator is that we have the free will to make choices, which will either please God or incur His wrath.

About a month ago, I went to see Father Chris. With a degree of childlike petulance, I wanted to know “why me?” as I shared my frustration and anger over some recurring health issues. I’m honestly not sure whether I expected a benign explanation of God’s plan for my life followed by anointing with oil and a blessing, but what followed could only be described as tough love, because the reply was a blunt question which stopped me in my tracks, effectively derailing my pity party. I was forced to address that perhaps God was trying to get my attention because I had run carelessly into traffic, blissfully oblivious to my mortality. I was on the wrong track and I needed a re-direct. Throwing all of the above into a pot, and boiling it down to its essence, I have come to the profound realization that we often mistakenly juxtapose God’s anger with God’s love, when in fact He becomes angry because His love is unconditional and He is intervening to save us from ourselves. We need to be reminded about how much more fulfilling our lives become when God is at the centre of everything we do: for better or worse, in sickness or in health, whether rich or poor.

Tough love. Intervention. What a great idea for a reality TV series. Oh, wait. It’s already been done. Welcome to my life, and quite likely yours too.

Sunday’s Readings:

Amos 6.1a, 4-7

1 Timothy 6.11-16

Luke 16.19-31