Saturday of the Second Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 6:6-27; Acts 10:18-33

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:16, 18 from the Introit for Trinity 3)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There's nothing much worse than when a friend turns her back on you. Someone you used to trust, someone who you could count on at one time now won't have anything to do with you. Maybe even quite literally turns around and goes the other way when she sees you coming down the hall.

If it stings when a friend turns her back on you, what about God? Even the first, great prophet Moses, the one who spoke directly to God, still was only privileged to see Him from the back. This isn't because God is the unfaithful One, but because we are unfaithful. He hides His face and His glory because, "Man shall not see me and live" (Ex. 33:20b).

This psalm collects the prayer of all who would see God: "Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me." I'm alone! I'm suffering! Look at my pain! But there's the distinct possibility that when God turns His face, it won't be a kind, compassionate smile, but a fierce, wrathful scowl.

"Turn Yourself to me...and forgive all my sins." God turns to us and faces us not in His glory, not in His wrath, but in Christ. He is the One who receives sinners and eats with them. He looks us in the face and we see the face of God--kind, gentle, forgiving. He sees our pain, joins us in our suffering, and will never leave us nor forsake us. He makes Himself a friend who will never turn His back on us.

In this way, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Benediction. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace." Every time the divine liturgy concludes, God turns to look upon us as forgiven sinners. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O God, the Protector of all that trust in You, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, increase and multiply upon us Your mercy that, You being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 3)

This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it.