Homily for August 3

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

When Jesus saw the vast crowds, he was moved with pity…
The vast crowds, of the poor and the oppressed, are still with us.
Imagine how moved with pity is Jesus
by the international and national news of the last few weeks.

In the first scripture today the Lord invites the hungry poor
to a feast for which there is no charge, no check, no bill.
He invites them to dine: on wine and rich fare…
for all to come without paying and without cost.
This is not, of course, a closing argument for the debate
on immigration reform.
But neither can these verses be absent
from our minds and our hearts - and our political choices –
as we consider the plight of those fleeing their native land.
We cannot forget that Lord’s own words here in Isaiah
were addressed to just such people: strangers in a foreign land.

St. Paul’s profound faith in the second scripture
sounds like a trumpet in the second scripture.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Anguish? or distress?  or persecution? or peril? or the sword?
Christians in Iraq have faced all of these for the past decade
but the terrorism and violence have escalated dramatically
in the last several weeks.

I read a few days ago of an elderly Christian woman in Mosul,
evicted from her home on account of her Christian faith
and not allowed to take any of her possessions with her.
She turned to those driving her out and said,
 “Yes, my house is yours now.  But you cannot take away my faith.”
In her words, St. Paul’s confidence is proved.
Recall what he wrote:
I am convinced that neither death nor life…
nor present things, nor future things…
nor anything will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Since the time of Isaiah, from the time of St. Paul,
from the day when Jesus faced those 5,000 hungry families
people have hungered: for food; for a place to call home;
for peace and tranquility:  and for the reverence and respect
due every human being as a child of God.

And since ancient times,
people have starved to death - even when surrounded
by the bounty of others;
people have been exiled from their hearth and homeland –
with no place to go;
people have been tortured, imprisoned and killed
–not for any crime
but simply on account of their color, their race, their creed.

In the face of all of this I feel as I imagine Jesus’ disciples felt
when he told them to feed the hungry thousands in front of them.
I.  Feel.  Helpless.
But the timely scriptures this week at least lead me to recognize
the ways in which the world’s approach to such human tragedy
simply will not do.
Nor has the world’s approach ever done enough
to resolve these age-old problems.

Let me share with you this prayer-poem I found on line this week: 

No, It Won’t Do

No, it won’t do
to claim that dwellings
hide the threat of fire,
or a hospital the resting place
for lethal activity that must be subdued,
or a family when told to leave didn’t , couldn’t,
for there was nowhere else to go.

No, it will not do,
as smoke clouds rise
above the rubble of city streets,
lit red with the flash of in-coming shells.
Amid this rumbling roar of attrition,
comes a wailing siren-scream as casualties
are lifted from the gathered dust
and broken-hearted mothers weep
for their children, held lifeless,
in their outstretched arms.

No, it will not do.
It will not do, neither this week nor next month,
for life to be lost through the intransigence
of stubborn men,
repaying anger with further anger,
losing sight of the final cost.

There on a narrow, coastal strip of land
between hot desert sand and cooling sea,
cries conscience.

No, it will not do.

- by Chris McDonnell

And God, too, says: it will not do:
it will not do at our nation’s borders;
it will not do in Iraq;  it will not do in Israel;
it will not do in any place where God’s people are in exile,
where they starve, where they are tortured,
where they are treated as less than who they are:
sons and daughters of God.

Here in Concord we can be so very insulated from all of this.
• We don’t hunger for food - but we often hunger for more
of what we already have in abundance.
• We are not in exile, except perhaps for the way our plenty
exiles us from those who have so much less, or nothing at all.
• Our faith is seldom truly tested
and it might be freedom’s seductive ease
that threatens to separate us from the love of Christ.
• We do not, on account of our creed,
face anguish or distress or persecution or peril or the sword.
And so it falls to us to reach out to those who do.
And our failure to do so: simply will not do.

I’ve been considering all this while on vacation for three weeks.
Vacation can be a very insulating experience.  It was for me.

And I’m left feeling even more helpless
in the face of all that’s in the news these days.
So here’s something I’ve decided to do.
I share this with you not to pat myself on the back
but rather to possibly challenge you
to consider doing something of the same,
as your circumstances suggest and your means might allow.
I’m going to total up what I spent on my vacation
and make an offering equal to 20% of that to organizations
that feed the hungry, care for the exiled and immigrants
and work for peace.
Doing this wasn’t in my vacation budget.
But here’s the point: I had a vacation budget -
in a world of people who have neither budgets nor vacations.

My small gesture won’t solve the world’s problems
but it might begin to resolve one of mine:
my insulated exile from the suffering of others.

Jesus saw the hungry thousands and he said,
“This will not do.”
We see them, too, and he calls us to declare the same:
“This will not do.”
And he calls upon us to do something.

Come now to the Lord’s feast.
And come without paying, without cost!
Come to the table where he invites each of us to be at home,
where he feeds our deepest hungers - and gives us his peace.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Pastor, for this reminder. I am heading over to the Red Cross/Red Crescent website now to give them some cash.


Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!