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in Omaha, Nebraska, since 1878
Reflections on the Daily Readings
from the Perspective of Creighton Students

October 5rd, 2013
by
Anne McMahon
Bio
| Email: AnneMcMahon@creighton.edu

One day during my last semester of high school, my favorite literature teacher got into one of his classic "life lessons" modes and told us a story. He had once had a student in his class who spent a lot of time complaining about how much his life sucked. As is often the case, the young man's problems were not so much the forces of the universe acting with vindictiveness against him. He simply wanted his world to be a certain way, to do what he felt like, without their natural negative consequences. I don't know if it was getting caught sneaking out to party, or not getting the car he wanted, or what have you, it wore the teacher's patience thin rather quickly.

The teacher pulled out a tennis ball, turned to the young man and said, "Take the ball, go up to the front of the classroom, and bounce it as hard as you can against the front wall." The young man did so, probably with the intent of hoping to show off how far he could get the ball to rebound. He was shocked and furious to find the ball had smacked him full in the face. In his anger, he picked up the ball and flung it even harder. He got smacked again.

The lit teacher obviously wasn't trying to demonstrate basic Newtonian physics. All actions in life have a consequence.

Everyone in life has moments when they don't like that fact. I think the first reading was definitely such a moment for the people of Israel. They had spent many generations with their backs turned to the God that had delivered them and promised them a Messiah. They grew tired of waiting and wanted to party their own way. The reading says that God is punishing them with exile, but the only form of punishment that he seems to really use is allowing the natural effects of human actions to run their course.

God's live is infinite, and his mercy is boundless, but that in no way makes him an enabler. I don't know where that idea comes from. He is always ready to forgive and restore us to his love and grace, but I think a lot of people fail to realize that this does not mean he allows us to live in a rejection of him. That isn't mercy. 

Mercy means that God saves us from ourselves, helps us turn away from our sin and all the things we were before, in order to become the holy, sacred, fully alive people he intends for us to be. In his mercy, he teaches us right from wrong and to do good and avoid evil; it is also part of human nature that the most effective method of teaching is experience. When we err or commit sin, and experience negative effects of that sin, we are really experiencing the first step of God's mercy. 

He is a good father who loves his children, and it breaks his heart to see us in pain. But he is also a wise father, and he wishes to cultivate in us a mature faith, one that sees the impact of our mistakes and through them, hears God's voice whispering, "Not that way. I have something better for you."

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