Text Box: Hebrew 12 5-7,11-13
 

 

St Stephen Lewisham
25th August 2013
Year C Week 21 in Ordinary Time

 

‘Put to rights’

 

Some people just can’t bear being told that they are wrong – that they’ve got a mistaken idea about something. They treat someone who tries to correct them, or who shows any doubt as to whether what they’ve said is true, as if they were a sort of personal enemy. They can’t bear to be challenged.

Now that’s a very foolish attitude when you think about it, this. We turn out to be wrong so often, and about so many things, that that every one of us needs correcting about dozens of things about which we are hold mistaken ideas.

How much better it would be if we welcomed the chance such a challenge gives us to discover the truth about the matter! But nowadays people are so much more interested in ‘feeling good’ about themselves than they are in learning the truth that every challenge to their beliefs makes them feel threatened.

Whether they believe that Madrid is the capital of Japan (which it isn’t); or that the sun is nearer the earth in the Summer than Winter-time (which it isn’t); or they believe it’s right to leave a set of keys lying in the gutter rather than hand them in at the police station; or they suppose that it doesn’t matter whether they believe that that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first Easter Day (which matters critically to they way they live their lives, and what happens to them when they die) – whichever mistaken belief it is, nine people out of 10 will react very badly to being  challenged about it. How much better it would be if they were to realize that they are wrong, learn the truth, and change their beliefs and behaviour as a result.

The writer to the Hebrews in this morning’s second reading tells us that accepting correction gladly is the hallmark of a good son or daughter. If God is our Father in Heaven then His ‘loving correction will make us great’ as the psalm tells us.

Of course, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews goes on to say, although such correction is most painful at the time and far from pleasant, it will later, and in God’s good time ‘bear fruit in peace and goodness’ in the lives of those people who have allowed their mistaken beliefs to be corrected.

Mistaken beliefs, he says, are like injured limbs. As long as we resist having a broken leg ‘put right’ we shall hobble along painfully on our worldly way. But if we allow an expert in broken limbs to ‘realign’ (or ‘straightened-out’) our broken leg – we discover that it becomes strong again.

And the same goes for mistaken (or ‘broken’) beliefs. If we let ourselves be challenged and corrected about them, we shall find that, so far from having lost something, have in fact found out something new.

And that ‘something new’ is nothing less than the Truth about God, the truth about the world we live in, and, not least, the Truth about ourselves!

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