Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Divine Tolerance
How often do we hear the warning - "That's enough! You have gone far enough"! Today's theme is that Divine tolerance is inexhaustible right to the very end. Our readings today develop this insight into divine tolerance.

Wisdom 12:13; 16-19: The Books of Wisdom were intended to be guides to practical living rather than theological treatises. Today's reading, however, instructs us on the nature of God, His forbearance and patience with His creatures setting an example for people to follow in their dealings with each other.

Romans 8: 26-27: St. Paul speaks of the discouragement so frequently felt when praying and advises that we never pray alone or without effect.

Matthew 13: 24-43: The Gospel re-asserts this need to understand God's forbearance and incredible patience with his creatures. Here we see the image of the gardener who carefully makes space for a new plant to grow and does not pull weeds too rashly.

Point 1: "Je ne regret rien" - "I have no regrets" is the title of a song made famous by Edith Piaf early last century and revived, more recently, by Shirley Bassey. There are few of us, however, who could honestly make it our theme song, because few, if any, go through life without some regrets - lost opportunities, wrong judgements, soured relationships as the result of envy or jealousy. And the sense of guilt experienced as a result of these regrets strikes deep for many. Low self esteem, depression, even desperation, leading to suicide are not uncommon. Frequently relief is sought in intermediate band-aids such as alcohol or other drugs.

Point 2: The religious person and, in particular, the informed Christian balances this sense of guilt with the knowledge that regardless of past or present circumstance, God always cares. Time and time again the Scriptures tell us that God is a forgiving God; that God is a tolerant God. Isaiah, for example affirms that "a bruised reed He shall not break; a smouldering wick He shall not quench" (Is. 42:3). And again in Nehemiah - "they refused to obey, and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them; but they stiffened their necks and determined to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them. [Neh 9:17]

Conclusion: The truth of the old adage "whilst there is life there is hope" is at the bottom line of the Christian understanding of forgiveness. We have come from, and we will return to a patient and concerned Creator. As this knowledge of personal value grows, new attitudes develop allowing us to handle those opposing feelings of love and hate, tenderness and pain, forgiveness and revenge which, left to themselves, can leave us with an ocean of regrets.

Two thoughts can be emphasised from this short reflection - firstly, that God is concerned with the ultimate outcome of my life and that, no matter what sort of present mess I may be in, I have my whole life - be it short or be it long - to make my peace. There is no room for thinking that I have gone too far! Secondly, if God is reluctant to condemn, why should I be so ready to judge either myself or others?

Scriptural reference: Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? [Rom 2:4]