July 18, 2012 - Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16
Psalm 94:5-10, 14-15
Matthew 11:25-27

The economy of salvation is the official theological name that we give to how things work. To learn about the economy of salvation is to learn how God is saving us. Economy here comes from the Greek word for household. Economy does not mean financial but the house rules of the universe.

There are many aspects to the economy of salvation, but our readings today illustrate one clearly: God never works directly when he can work indirectly. This rule is why the common statement, often used to denigrate the communion of saints: “I like to pray directly to God” is just silly. God does not do anything directly. The Father sends the Son. The Son sends the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit acts through human beings. This is all very inefficient, but it is God’s way of acting.

In the economy of this world, we are always trying to cut out the middle man, because the more efficient the process, the less waste there is. In the economy of salvation, God includes as many middle men and women as he possibly can. He could have destroyed Israel, but he chose to do it through the Assyrians. He does not punish them directly. He empowers the Assyrians to punish them. God is angry that Assyria has overstepped its bounds, but he would not have that problem if he had just punished Israel directly.

No one has seen the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. It would be more efficient if God revealed himself to us directly. Perhaps we can understand the inefficiency of the Trinity, or at least accept it, but the inefficiency of relying on imperfect humans to reveal God is very frustrating. Our relationship with God happens through the Church, despite the sin and inadequacy of most every member of the Church. How many people have broken their relationship with God because of their experience of the sinful humanity of the Church? It would seem more logical, more efficient if God would just work with each person directly.

Of course, really, we understand that God knows what he is doing. This inefficiency is just love: the love of the Father for the Son and the Holy Spirit, and the love that he wants us to have for each other. He does not want to save us on our own, individually. He wants to save a Church, an assembly of people in love with each other, and he wants us to be a part of that Church.