Homily for the 9th Sunday of the Year

8th Sunday of the Year (B) 2018

Our first parents, Adam and Eve, have a lot to answer for. Today many question whether they actually existed. But, for a friend of mine, there is doubt about Adam and Eve’s existence. He says that when he dies and eventually gets into Heaven, he’s going to punch Adam on the nose!

Yes, he blames Adam for all that has gone wrong. But notice in the story from Genesis, Adam blames Eve: “It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit and I ate”. And when God asks Eve why she did it, she blames the serpent, “the serpent tempted me and I ate”. They’re all blaming each other. It sounds familiar. But God doesn’t blame Adam nor Eve, instead he blames the serpent; “because you have done this, be accursed beyond all cattle..” etc. And if you listen closely enough you can hear Adam whispering to Eve: “phew, that was a close one. I thought he’s blames us”!

My friend, who wants to punch Adam on the nose, wouldn’t have let Adam or Eve off so lightly. No, to his way of thinking, they did wrong, therefore they deserved to punished. But fortunately for our first parents and for us my friend isn’t God. God is so different from us. Don’t we develop a sense of right and wrong very early. Good parents teach their children right from wrong. And so when someone does wrong we have a strong sense of justice: they should be punished. I remember often thinking my parents should have punished my younger brother; he was always naughty.

When Adam did wrong he ran away and hid. Many a child has done that, kicked a football through someone’s window then ran off and hid. How many of us have run away when we’ve done wrong. Adam knew he was in trouble because he’d disobeyed God so he ran away. But God found him hiding behind some bushes. We can do the same: we run away for fear of punishment: we know we’ve done wrong, we know that we deserve to be punished. This we learned from our earliest days.

There was a scene in “Faulty Towers” where Basil Fawlty is arguing with his wife. I think she has doubled booked some guests, or something. Anyway, they are having this row about it. And she tells him that it’s his fault. He doesn’t believe this for one minute. But in his own manic way he accepts that it’s his fault. Not only that but he says: “oh, so it’s my fault, well then I deserve to be punished”! And with that he sets about beating himself with a stick.

Now we’re not all Basil Fawlty, but I think we recognise something of him in ourselves. At least, that when we do wrong we deserve to be punished. And almost inevitably we apply this to God. That God will punish us for the wrong we do. But the God we believe in isn’t like us. He is a God of mercy and fogiveness. Isn’t that what the psalmist tells us: “If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive? But with you is found forgiveness: for this we revereyou. And doesn’t Jesus say the same in the gospel; “I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven…”.

No, God doesn’t condemn us for our sins. He is soft of on sin and soft on us. It’s because he knows of what we are made. Instead He is merciful and forgiving. Not just once or twice but all the time. And the lesson he wants us to learn is to do likewise. Forgive others the wrong they do to you. ‘The child is us may cry out: “why should I?” But the Christian, like his Lord and Master, will always forgive. You see we are called to imitate Christ, not a child.

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