But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you. (Is 49:14-15)
The first part of the reading from Isaiah reads like many an Irish blessing. “May the road rise to meet your Feet. May the wind be always at your back.” Two years ago we were on the tiny Aran Island of Inis Oirr and it rained and the wind blew all week. It is tough going when the wind is not at your back. Isaiah is assuring us that God is making all things new for us as creation continues to flare forth. Isaiah uses feminine images to bring out the love and compassion of the Divine.
The last sentences of the reading struck me. At Eucharist on Sunday, Father King was preaching on the Prodigal Son, He assured us of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. He said, “God cannot disown you.” “I shall never forget you.” God cannot disown us. Wait a minute. God is God and could disown us if God wanted to. But then, I thought: creation flared forth from God. We all share the stardust and the image of the Divine. In order to deny us, the Creator would have to cast off part of who the Creator is. Our lives are inextricably interwoven into the life of the Divine.
With the heady stuff out of the way, think again. Listen to your heart. God cannot disown us. Disown means to reject, repudiate, renounce. Think of how often people are disowned in our increasingly uncivil culture because they think differently. Thinking differently is the lifeblood of the polis but we summarily reject “deviant” thinkers. It also happens in families. People disown family members because of what they do or say. Brothers disown brothers because they are Republicans or Democrats. Catholics disown sisters because they are conservative or liberal. If we dare question patriarchal “doctrines,” Church prelates may disown us. They call it excommunication.
When you are disowned, it is a struggle to believe that God will not disown you. Why should God be different from others? Because God is God. God is love. God is creator. God is compassion. God is mercy beyond mercy beyond mercy. God is Father and Mother and more. God can never forget us or disown us. Our God is a Prodigal God! “God is gracious and merciful.”
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life. (Jn 5: 24)
Hear the Word. God cannot disown us. Jesus is our brother. If we believe this we have eternal life—eternal life now. We have truly passed from death to life. Once we embrace the truth of our mortality—we will die—we can live life fully.
Our God is inclusive, not exclusive. God always welcomes us. Remember this is the God who lets the rain fall on the good and bad alike and the sun to shine on the good and bad. God daily welcomes us to the banquet of life. God wants us to have life and to have everything we need (Jn 10:10). If God is with us, who can disown us? If God is for us, who can be against us?
God wants us to be what we already are—unique iterations of Divinity, each one different. In living out our lives, God calls us to witness to Gospel values according the gifts we have received. Sometimes God calls us to stand up for God and then we experience the pain of being disowned. Jesus was disowned by the powers and principalities and yet he came to new life.
Amid the noise, commotion and tribulation of life, amid the rancor of politics and disownment in family affairs, we hold to the central core truth. God is God. God is with us. God loves us.
Our life in God rests in amazement, wonder, gratitude and JOY. Mystic Marguerite Porète wrote:
Such a soul bathes in the sea of love,
That is, the sea of delight
That streams forth from the Godhead.
It feels no joy for it is joy itself
And bathes and flows in joy
Without feeling it.
For it inhabits joy and joy inhabits it.