Christ The Servant Church
homily january 2013
Homily for january 27, 2013
Good Morning CTS. I guess we should have all gone to Cuba given this cold weather. Now that I have been preaching for a few years it is interesting how many times the same themes are repeated in our Gospels about Jesus and the Good News. All good teachers know that there are 3 important ingredients to helping students learn anything: repetition, repetition, repetition. So, if you think you have heard this homily before well maybe that’s ok. But, seriously, I think the master teacher, God, knew that given our short attention spans, we would need to hear the Words of Eternal Life repeated often. Awe the joys of being human? We can be so tuned out at times and so harsh on ourselves at other times.
Today’s Gospel has Jesus taking a turn reading from the Sacred Scroll. He reads the Holy Words with such authority that all eyes are on Him as he proclaims: Good news to the poor, release for captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed, and finally he proclaims it the Year of the Lord. Now all those in Jesus’ church/synagogue would have heard these words many times, but Jesus doesn’t stop there and I expect He knows fully well what is going to happen when He adds a line that gets everyone’s attention. TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE IS FULFILLED. Say what? How can this be? How would Joseph the Carpenter’s son know this? Can it really be true or is He just guessing or what? Every time Jesus teaches with Authority the crowds get to decide if they will believe Him or judge Him. They will have lots of opportunities of course to make their final decisions/judgements as they watch Him live out his next 3 years of public life because he will repeat the same themes and actions over and over. During this time he miraculously feeds the poor, frees people from evil spirits, multiplies the loaves and fishes and turns water into wine, all the time eating and drinking and celebrating with all people: rich and poor. He will continually speak of this Kindom of Heaven being here, right now, not just in Heaven. Even if some don’t believe, He still preaches it.
Ezra’s and many other passages of scripture before Jesus’ time share similar messages and in their day people had to decide if they would believe them too. Ezra says, “Today” eat what is rich, drink what is sweet and share with those who don’t have what you have.
The themes are so similar. Can it be this simple? Can we claim a year of favour, today? Can we believe in these words? Should we be celebrating something, now? Or should we be like the people of Jesus’ day and wait, judge and doubt that it’s really true that God cares enough to take the time to come to Earth and show us how to LIVE LIFE to the FULL. Do we believe in the God of miracles or are they just made up stories to push someone’s political agenda? How do you look at it? What will you use to decide on the truth of these events? What is your perspective?
When I was a first year teacher I remember being quite a basket case when it came to finding my way through the steep learning curve of planning and delivering lessons to students. Many of whom were all over the map on what they wanted to learn and how hard they wanted to work. One boy in that first year, I’ll call Neil, decided to make sure I knew every day what he thought of my hard work for his class. “I hate this class, this is boring, this sucks, why do we have to do this?” I remember feeling like the biggest failure ever. I kept trying to improve but no matter what I did this kid just kept up with his negativity. Then one day God set me free. The girl who sat right in front of “negative” Neil said, “Did you ever think the reason you are so negative isn’t Mr. Smith’s fault but YOURS?” I had never considered that Neil had a part to play in his harsh judgement of me; I didn’t realize his judgement could be wrong? I just allowed him to trample on my life pulling me farther and farther into the pit. After that day, I never owned his negativity again. I was freed. My blindness healed, my eyes opened wide and forever… well… maybe not forever.
Jesus wants to free us too of whatever burden or vice we are dragging around with us today. We need to be open to the miracle of new sight to our blindness. The Beautiful Analogy of the body in Paul’s second reading is quite simple and quite profound. It also frees us from comparing ourselves to one another and wishing we could sing like so and so or bake like grandma or golf like Rory or be a hand or a foot or whatever. We have to use the KISS method and keep it simple stupid. We have to see that we are called to be just ONE thing: insert your name here. AND… God is absolutely pleased to the Nth degree with who you are.
In fact, YOU are perfect, even in your imperfection. Let me repeat that for you so you truly get it. In fact, YOU are perfect, even in your imperfection. No need to modify the program or change your true self to gain the love of our God. There is one more thing too. The same is true when we look at our spouse, our children, our parents. God has made them perfectly, even in their imperfections. So, who are we to judge them? We need to all stop asking why they are this way or that way or why they aren’t a hand or a foot or a mouth, they are whom God called them to be and God is quite pleased with them and so should we be. So, often we judge one another by our career, our social status, our education, our body size, our brain size, all externals. Who says this is how we should live? Are we blinded by the judgements of society? Maybe, we must look at things from another perspective and see things as God does with the eyes of Love and Beauty.
Now someone thought I should preach on miracles. Interesting eh? I’m not sure why but I do like to share stories about my miracles with students just to keep them thinking from a new perspective trying to open their minds to the possibility of a God who can control things, so here’s one for you. On a trip to Toronto with 7 students in my van I was driving along quite happily with lots of time to spare as we stroll down the middle lane of the 3 lane EXPRESS side when all of a sudden my motor stalled: no power steering and no brakes as we coast down a slight hill. For some reason I usually don’t panic in these situations. I quickly checked my mirrors, pulled the hand brake and slowly steered the van over to the paved shoulder. The miracle at this point was that there were no cars in any lanes near me, both in front and behind and beside. Whew. Now what? This was in an age where no one had cell phones. We have 8 of us and the van won’t start, no matter what. I read that the worst thing you can do is sit in a vehicle beside the side of the road. The 2nd miracle: I look around and see a bridge directly beside us with concrete walls on all sides providing us complete safety where all the students can stand while we wait for help. What a sight? The 3rd miracle not 1 but 2 tow trucks in about 10 minutes: both able to seat 4 people so we don’t have to leave anyone standing on the 401. The 4th miracle: a Canadian Tire Service Center right beside the next off ramp. Good News right.
Except they couldn’t look at my van and they couldn’t help me find a replacement van. Now what? “Eddie take that Toronto Yellow Pages go get me the phone number of the Rental Agency with the biggest Ad. I call them and explain my dilemma. They have no vans. But, they do have a small 12 seat minibus thing that he gave me for the same price as a minivan. Miracle #5: Where are you located? Do you know the Canadian Tire off Warden we are across the road? NICE, thanks God. We drove to the event and back to school without even being late. 6th miracle, when I return the rental bus, I pick up my van to find it started fine and no expensive repairs were required. Final 7th miracle, my Principal paid for the bus rental out of his budget no questions asked. We had never had that problem before but I think God was trying to remind me and my students with God we don’t need to worry, life will have its problems, and God will have solutions. Sometimes right away like this one, and sometimes it takes a few years to see the hand of God. It might just take a different perspective to actually see things clearly and it might take a lifetime to completely get the whole message. But don’t worry if you feel like a slow learner, because God likes to use repetition. If you didn’t hear anything special in my homily today, there’s always tomorrow.