Reverence vs. Gospel

I’ve often remarked that God seems remarkably unconcerned with his dignity. Jesus did not consider being equal with God as something to exploit. Jesus healed a woman who came to him as a last resort, after trying every other healer and their cures. He was born in a barn and died on a gore-covered post. There’s a pattern here. The Father runs to embrace the son who wished he was dead. When we try to apologize, he interrupts us to call for a robe and a ring. There’s no insult he can’t shrug off. What matters isn’t why you left or what convinced you to come back. What matters is that you came home.

But you better put that robe on, son. Thomas Tobin, the Roman Catholic Bishop in Rhode Island, commented recently about the shabby way some people dress:

the reminder to “dress proudly enough not to offend,” might be the most relevant, especially now as we enter the hot and humid, casual days of summer. The sloppy and even offensive way people dress while attending Mass is something I’ve witnessed personally and regularly receive complaints about.

The gospel of God’s grace always brings tears to my eyes. But you can always count on church people to dress it up in a cozy, legalistic outfit.

To be sure, Jesus told a parable where someone was punished for not wearing the right clothes. But he gave grace to Simon Peter when he was naked except for a wet robe.

What’s the difference? I think the question is, who’s the one who’s scandalized? God seems to overlook things that get people upset. And maybe your faith is so weak that it would be a mercy for the other person to behave differently to accommodate your sensitivity. But if that’s the case, say so. Don’t say you’re worried about God being upset.


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