Sunday of Ordinary Time Cycle C (July 4, 2004)
on the readings:
I promised the
team preparing this service that I would not make my reflection
too long, so I had to pick one main thing from the many ideas contained
in the readings.
If I picked something
different than what caught your attention during the readings,
you should ignore what I am saying and do your own reflection.
That is the way it should be. Always choose to listen to the voice
of God’s Spirit within you rather than to me standing up
you picked up on the first reading. Anyone who thinks that the Old
Testament only presents an image of God as a powerful authoritarian
and male figure, could not have read this passage from Isaiah.
The verse that
comes just before the reading today says : “Shall I open
the womb and not deliver? Says the Lord. Shall I, the one who delivers,
shut the womb? Says your God.” And then, in today’s
selection, we hear Isaiah speaking for God when he says; You shall
be carried on her arm and dandled on her knee as a mother comforts
her child, so I will comfort you.” Just because Jesus was
born a human male does not mean that God is male.
I looked at the
readings and chose to talk about POWER. Before you say, “yeah
sure, just like a man to talk about power when we have this first
reading about the feminine character of God,” let me say
that I see that the first reading is all about power. What more
powerful image of God can there be than the image of God giving
birth and comforting a child? This power that does not destroy
but gives life, and supports that life. That is what all of God’s
mighty creation is about.
While I was considering
the idea of God’s power, I remembered a quote I came across
when I was still a young man. It comes from a book by Eli Wiesel
called “Town beyond the Wall,” and is taken from a
discussion between two homeless refugees in Morocco after World
You like to talk about God?
You know I do.
Then go on Pedro, talk to me about God.
God little brother, is the weakness of strong men, and the strength of
What about men, do you like to talk about men?
You know I do.
Then talk to me about men.
Man is God’s strength. Also his weakness.
– Eli Wiesel --
think the Gospel story is about God’s power, about God’s
strength and about God’s weakness.
In this account
from Luke, “Jesus appointed 70 others and sent them out ahead
of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended
The people Jesus
sends out are not the 12 apostles. They are ordinary people like
you and I who are not part of the inner circle, not the big shots.
Jesus gives them
1) cure the sick, and
2) say to them; “the Kingdom of God has come near to you.”
Maybe this instruction
about curing the sick tells you that this reading is not directed
to you, unless you happen to be a medical doctor of other health
professional. Not so!
very well that anyone who can cure the sick has real power. We
also know that all healing power really comes from God and from
within the life spirit of the person who is being cured. The health
professional was just the person who was able to encourage that
healing power to become active and who supported the sick person
on the way back to health.
If those 70 had
been health professionals of his day, as Luke himself was, it is
likely that he would have pointed that out to us. No, these were
just 70 people, 35 pairs of them, who had been learning from Jesus
and who were willing to do the work that Jesus asked of them.
Well, we heard
what they were able to do and how impressed they were with the
power they found within themselves. They were so impressed that
they were boasting to Jesus how even the demons had submitted to
of that power seems to have gone to their heads a bit. (That sounds
pretty human and ordinary to me.)
am here today to tell you that you , each of you, young and old,
have incredible powers within you to bring healing to your world.
That power has been put into you by God when God gave birth to you
and when you received your first breath of life. Your life is part
of God’s own life, and with it came the power to do the work
of God. Jesus knew that. That is why he had such confidence in sending
out the 70.
of us is given the possibility of curing the sick in our own way
and in our own situation.
Do I have skeptics
in front of me? Do not doubt the power that you have.
Would you ever
doubt your power to destroy? Certainly you know that you have the
power with a few words to inflict serious and even life-long pain
on those who deserve your love.
Think about what
happens when a parent tells a child that she / he is worthless
,and that the parent is sorry that the child was ever born.
Think about the
pain that is inflicted on a spouse when a partner says that she
/ he is sorry that they ever met.
Think about the
damage you can do to relationships and reputations with gossip
and by excluding people from your friendship.
Think about the
harm we can do to the environment and how that will inflict damage
on all living things that depend on the health of the earth.
Yeah, we can
easily see our power when we think of the harm we are all capable
if we have the power to inflict harm, that same power can cure and
heal and restore goodness.
parent can say; “I am so thankful to God for having made you
and giving me the opportunity to be your parent.” A spouse
can say “I am so grateful to God for the day that we first
met.” You can prepare the good food that God has provided for
you and open your cabin or home to your friends to share in that
food and in your hospitality. You can support a struggling co-worker
on the job. You can do your best to create community and unity where
there is division. You can take care of this earth and help it to
heal from the wounds we have already inflicted on it. You can reach
out in friendship to someone who needs a friend.
Your words and
your actions have real power because when they are used to do the
work of God, they are the power of God. So Wiesel’s Pedro
was right; God is the weakness of strong men and the strength of
weak men and man is God’s strength and also God’s weakness.
Just like the
70, we are called to bring healing to our world, and we all have
the power of God within us to achieve this.
And then we come
to the second instruction; we also need to tell others that the
Kingdom of God is near to them.
The Kingdom of the Father that Jesus came to proclaim is a kingdom in the
human heart, and that kingdom is built, and is near, whenever the power
of God is unleashed within us and reaches out to bring healing to our neighbours,
to the communities that we share, and to the common earth that sustains
The Kingdom is
the presence of God’s love. The Kingdom is the presence of
God’s power acting through us to build and not destroy, to
love and not hate, to support and not tear down, to bring comfort
and not cause pain.
we are the 70 that Luke is talking about. We do have great power
because it is God’s power that is in us, and when we use that
power the demons will submit to us and the kingdom is brought near
I would like to repeat the Alleluia verse as God’s blessing
on us as we set out to go to every town and place where Jesus himself
intended to go; “May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
and the fulness of his message live within you. Alleluia”.
And that’s the good news for today.
Regnitter / Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina