FOR JULY 15/16 1989
ST, MICHAEL'S PARISH
SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (Cycle C)
Deuteronomy 30, 10 - 14 --Psalm
69 --- Collosians 1, 15 - 26 -- Luke 10, 25 - 37
While many people of our
parish and diocese gather for the St. Laurent pilgrimage, we come together
to hear God's Word, to reflect on it, and later in this service, to offer
thanksgiving and share the bread consecrated during a previous Eucharistic
celebration here at St. Michael's.
We have just heard the
word of God read to us. Let us let go of some of the bothersome thoughts
of the day or of the week, and let our minds and hearts listen to what God
is saying to us and to our church.
Our second reading tonight,
from Paul's letter to the Colossians, is trying to clarify who the person
of Jesus Christ really was. Jesus was not some middle-level god such as many
of the Greeks believed in. He was not one of many gods -- no, Jesus, the
Christ, is "the image of the unseen God" St. Paul says. "All
things were created through him and for him, and before anything was created,
he existed and he holds all things in unity".
But St. Paul does not stop
there. He adds; "Now the church is his body; he is the head." You
and I as part of this parish and this church are his body -- and he is our
head. During this week of the bi-centennial of the French Revolution, we
are presented with images of the French guillotine cutting off peoples' heads.
The image of a headless body or a head without its body is a shocking image
because it starkly reminds us that there is no life, no functioning possible
without the two together. Well, that is how we depend on Christ -- and yes,
that is also how he depends on us to bring about what the last paragraph
of this reading says..."Because God wanted all perfection to be found
in him and all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything
in heaven and everything on earth -- when he made peace by his death on the
Let us keep this image
of who Jesus is and what role we have in completing his will, as we take
a closer look at the other two readings....
The first reading is from
the book of Deuteronomy. When we hear the word "LAW" we tend to
think of laws as rules and penalties. The term "law" in scripture
refers to how man could bring his life and the life of the community into
harmony with God's plan -- and thereby come to realize personal and community
fulfillment and happiness.
Moses points out that God's
law -- his Word is not obscure or hidden or complicated. It is something
we all know because "it is very near to you. It is in your mouth and
in your heart for your observance" he tells us. We might say that God's
plan for us is obvious to us through our conscience and from what we have
learned in our Christian community -- and especially what we know from a
The third reading is a
familiar story. Jesus asks the Jewish lawyer what the LAW says we must do
to inherit eternal life. Let us look at his reply again... "You must
love the Lord your god with all your heart, with all your soul, with all
your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."
Who then, is our neighbor,
the lawyer and we ask? What we really want to find are some grounds for limiting
our need to love -- some grounds for limiting how much the church, Christ's
body must forgive and love...
If we can only find some
way of excluding some people...
Can we exclude people who
are nasty to us??
Can we exclude people who don't return our love??
Can we exclude people we don't know very well??
Can we exclude our children when they are being disobedient??
Can we exclude our parents when they are being intolerant and disrespectful
Can we exclude people who have different beliefs than us??
Can we exclude people who try to cheat us, steal from us, or who are trying
to get us fired from our jobs??
Can we exclude people who have broken our laws and injured us or others??
Can we exclude those who are sick or poor because of their own stupidity or
Can we exclude those, the support of whom, would put ourselves or our families
All of these are questions
we ask every day when we make decisions about whom we shall love as our neighbor.
So like the lawyer in the Gospel story, we are looking for a way to limit
Jesus' reply to the lawyer
is for us to hear too. The Good Samaritan story tells us that it does not
matter at all who we might figure our neighbor is or isn't -- what God wants
of us is that WE BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR. The focus is away from the question
of who is acting like a good neighbor toward us -- and focuses on our need
to be the loving, caring, reconciling, healing, supporting body of Christ
St. Paul was writing about. Our role is that of Christ. We know this already
though, don't we.
To whom do we need to reach
out? Do we have to rush out and buy a ticket to central Africa to work among
the starving peoples? Do we have to quit our jobs and work full-time as volunteer
helpers working with terminally ill Aids patients?
Maybe, maybe not. Let us
look again at Christ's example. He did not sail to Rome or to Athens to heal
the cripples on those city streets. He did not spend all his time feeding
the hungry. What he did do was reach out the best he could to bring God's
love in practical ways to those people his circumstances and his understanding
of the Father's will directed him to do.
Remember, God's word is
in our mouth and in our hearts -- we do not need to cross seas or leap into
the sky to find this Word. Nor is what God asks of us beyond our strength
or our reach.
God's will is known to
each of us. Maybe he wants me to be a neighbor in Africa -- or in a hospital
ward -- or maybe he wants me to be a loving neighbor in my family, where
I work or when I'm shopping for groceries. He will make that known to me
and he will give me the strength and reach that I needs.
I do not need to figure
out who is my neighbor. I need to pray to God that I have the openness and
generosity needed to be a neighbor according to the example of Jesus. Let
us pray for this as we continue our celebration.
Candesna Cun Wakan