8th Sunday after Pentecost 26.7.20 Identity
In the prodigal son parable the son is re-admitted to the family simply because he is the son; he did not ‘deserve’ to be taken back; it was merely that the father loved him anyway, in spite of his many faults.
God will forgive our sins even if they are repeated many times.
He is not just ignoring the sin, as if He were easy-going. The sin is painful to Him and He will remove it.
He will cleanse us from that sin, and even the tendency to sin. He wants to heal us at the deepest level, so that we are transformed in His image; transformed from sinners to saints, from outcasts to children of the palace; such that we will not only be His children, but think and act like we are.
These days it is customary not to talk about sin or fault in others.
This is a short-term path to peace, but it is better if we understand that we do have faults which can be forgiven and overcome.
Better to admit fault, be forgiven and strengthened; rather than to deny fault and stay in our mediocrity and sins.
We can still be confident of salvation and feel good about ourselves, but with the extra assurance that we really are in union with God's will.
St Paul is exhorting us in today’s epistle to live according to our true identity - which is children of God.
God has created us; called us to special union with Him. This is a great privilege.
The old- style spiritual authors emphasize our lowliness before God. We are as miserable worms before Him. This is meant to humble us, which we certainly need.
We are miserable worms by comparison with God. Human lowliness compared with eternal infinite glory.
We are even more so miserable worms when we disobey Almighty God.
But we are still children of the palace, members of God's royal family.
With due humility restored we are then able to act according to our true status – we are called to something higher, and we answer the call.
We never forget, however, that anything good we do is made possible by the grace of God.
We never forget our dependence on Him.
We can never be worthy of fellowship with God, strictly speaking, but we can accept His grace and mercy.
We really are His children; it is up to us to live according to that identity.
We can reclaim our position, by taking up our responsibilities and growing into our true identity (cf Henry V of England).
Anyone that is not good now can become so, and for this we pray constantly, for conversion and repentance.
We do all we can to help others to find their true status before God.
We know the phrase, Act your age…well, this is Act your identity - a child of God.
And we can discover a new world, truly the kingdom of God come among us.