Homily for July 10

Image source

Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

After all the violence we’ve witnessed in the past month,
the past year, the past decade,
what does it mean to preach the gospel of the Prince of Peace?
The truth of the ancient scriptures 
is attested to in today’s first scripture,
written some 7 centuries before the time of Jesus.
Recall the words we heard from Moses’ lips.
It’s not hard to imagine Moses weeping and pleading
over the streets of Dallas, St. Paul, Baton Rouge and Orlando
 with those same ancient words:
 “If only you would heed the voice of the Lord, your God
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in the book of the law
when you return to the Lord, your God
with all your heart and all your soul…
 “And this command is not mysterious or remote from you…
It is not up in the sky or across the sea, beyond your reach.
No, it is something very near to you,
Already in your mouths and in your hearts:
you have only to carry it out.”
And what is that command, that statute which is near to us,
already in our mouths and in our hearts –
so close that all that’s left is for us to carry it out?           
If we’ve forgotten that command, if it has escaped our hearts,
then Jesus reminds us of it in today’s gospel:
 “You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart, with all your being,
with all your strength, and with all your mind.
And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Is there a believer, a person of any faith, any faith at all,
who would fail to appreciate the wisdom of loving God
and of loving our neighbor as our self?
Is there an atheist, an agnostic, a humanist
who fails to see at least the benefit if not the wisdom
in loving our neighbor as we love our self?
Such a command is, as Moses taught, not mysterious,
not remote, far off, beyond our reach.
Rather it has been placed on the tip of the human tongue
and engraved in the human heart
as the word, as the signature
of the Creator whose artistry fashions
every human being who comes into the world.

Only when we allow prejudice and bigotry a place in our hearts
does the language of intolerance begin to fall from our lips.
And when we allow violence to rent space in our imagination
we should not be surprised when our words, if not our deeds,
begin to accomplish what our fantasies have entertained.

And all of this is as true for you and me
as it is for those responsible for the violent deaths in the daily news.

Like you, I feel powerless over the wanton carnage
that plays over and over again in the media. 

But I am not powerless over my own thoughts.
I am not powerless over my own heart.
I am not powerless over my own feelings.
I am not powerless over the pride I take in my prejudice.
I am not powerless over the bigotry hidden in my biased opinions.
I am not powerless over my own words and deeds.
I am not powerless over what I imagine I’d like to say or do
to my enemies in the local wars being waged
in my family, my neighborhood, my workplace.
I am not powerless over my capacity to ignore others in need.
I am not powerless 
over my freedom to forgive those who have hurt me.
I am not powerless over letting go whatever it might be
that keeps me from loving God with all my heart
and loving my neighbor as myself.

That command is not mysterious, remote or beyond my reach:
It is near: in my mouth and yours, in your heart and mine
and we must carry it out.

No Christian is exempt from this command,
no Christian is excused from striving to love God in everything
and no Christian gets a pass on loving one’s neighbor as one’s self -
regardless of who my neighbor is
or how my neighbor may have hurt me.

And to what extent am I called to love my neighbor?
The answer to that hangs over our prayer
in the outstretched arms of Jesus
who was struck down for our sakes,
who calls us to love one another.

His love is not a mystery: it is as real and palpable as his wounds.
His love is not remote or far off: we can reach out and touch him
in the suffering of others.
His love is near: he shares it with us in the sacrament of this table.

As we gather at this altar with prayers for those who have died,
let us pray also for ourselves
that the Communion we share here will nourish us deeply.

The command to love God and our neighbor
is neither mysterious nor remote - it is near.
We have only to carry it out - right where we are.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!