RELIGION: We make up our own design for how we want to be

Canon Gerry Conroy

If you are building a model, if you are doing a jigsaw puzzle or building a flat-pack, it helps to have instructions, or a picture of the finished product; it helps to know what you are making is supposed to look like when its finished. You can still create something with all the pieces, but it’s unlikely that it will be what it was meant to be; it won’t look like what its creator intended it to look like.

It’s the same with our humanity, the same with our world. If we pay no attention to God the creator and try to make of ourselves what we want without reference to God, then we will create something, but it won’t be as God intended it to be and it won’t be as beautiful as God intended us to be.

That is basically what St Paul is telling us in that second reading. All things will find their meaning only in him because all things were modelled on him as the beloved child of God, the perfect image of God. For that very reason all things find their meaning and purpose in him, they find their completeness in him. Conversely, without him they do not. When we try to find happiness, completeness without Christ, we are doomed to fail. When we are building our life, we need to see the model on which our creation was based – that is Christ, the beloved child of God.

The whole teaching of the Church on sin, is that we decide to be our own creator and make up our own design for how we want to be. It is when we deviate from the plan of God that things start to go awry in our world and in our lives. It is when we start to ignore God’s design, that chaos starts to creep in and our world makes less and less sense. There is a lot of goodness and beauty in our lives that speak of God to us. But we can be too busy to see it, too hurt to notice it. Two thieves were crucified beside Jesus, one eventually recognised the goodness, one didn’t. How long can we go on without recognising God before we realise that certain ways of living and choosing have become irreversible?

The Kingdom of God is about recognising God as creator and designer of something wonderful in us and in creation and about us living in accordance with that design. Sadly, we are not very good at that; we too often think we can do better; the truth is we can’t. As St Paul said All things hold together in him, but what we see in our world is disunity and fragmentation, self-interests among individuals and nations that stop us and threaten us with destruction. It is Christ that is the the principle of unity, Christ who will bring us together since all things are reconciled in him and he does that by his cross.

In the cross He gives us a blue-print for our lives, a blue-print that seems at odds with our world: Too often in the world it seems as if relationships are determined, even corrupted by power. Too often the abuse of power is the norm in a world where we are confused and cannot see who we are; we feel threatened and so we think that the only way to find the space we need to be free, to be ourselves, is with power and force. The cross offers us an alternative and speaks a truth we know, and that alternative is that it is love, and love alone that gives us the space we need to be ourselves, to be truly free. It is not the love that seeks power over another, but the love that is open to giving and receiving the whole person. That is where we begin to enter the Kingdom of God and live under the reign of Christ the King.

Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s and St Peter’s in Dumbarton

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