Homily – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, if you are like me; there was much this past week that lays heavy on your hearts.  A short listing is probably instructive as we try to make sense of the Scriptures today.

  1. 2300 children are still separated from their parents at our southern border, and no matter the rhetoric out of Washington, there seems not much sign that they will be united any time soon—we can only imagine the trauma this is causing in the lives of these young people.
  2. Then there are the parents detained, separated from their children simply because they came to this country, escaping a bad life and looking for a better one for themselves and their children, free from violence, only to be met with more violence at the port of their hope.
  3. The Supreme Court of this country voted in a split decision to again enforce the ban on Muslims coming from 5 Middle East countries, under the guise of national security when it is clear to all who choose to see that the ban is racist at heart.
  4. Our Congress failed once again this week to come up with a viable plan on immigration, allowing partisan politics to get in the way of doing what is right, what this country says it stands for. You can name others….

And for some in this country, this is about “making America great again.”  In reality, each of these four actions is about sticking our heads in the sand,” about selfishness and greed, about turning our backs on all that is decent and good, what our country was founded upon.  And if all of this makes you sad, it should!

But as Christians, as followers of our brother, Jesus, we can’t stop at the sadness, but in our hope that good always, always wins out in the end; we must each do our part, to make it so!

Our Scriptures for today are most instructive in this regard—we must simply take in their messages and make them reality in our lives.

Our first reading today comes from the Wisdom literature and when did we need wisdom more?  The writer tells us that, “we are modeled on the divine” and I would submit that because we are, modeled on the divine; we are called, as a country to emulate the words on the Statue of Liberty, more so than the actions coming out of Washington this past week.  We know from all the Scriptures re-telling Jesus’ life among us, that to emulate the divine, to rise above our humanity cannot be just about ourselves, but about what is good for all.

The Wisdom writer continues, “God created all things to be alive—all things of the world are made to be wholesome.”  In separating children from their parents and parents from their children—the pain goes both ways; we must remember that this is not about “life” at its best and certainly is not “wholesome!”

Our brother Jesus demonstrates in two different actions of healing touch how we must, each of us, approach our world.  Both examples speak of a certain kind of “death,” as we know; death can be physical, emotional and spiritual.

The unnamed woman suffering from an undiagnosed and misunderstood blood flow for many years comes to Jesus in faith and hope to be relieved of this ailment, which, to her, was like a death.   Because her ailment was unexplainable, she was ostracized from the community and her family—there were all kinds of taboos about associating with women during their monthly flow of blood, to say nothing of someone whose flow was continual.  On top of that, women had no significant place in the world in which Jesus lived; thus it isn’t even important to give her a name.  And Jesus would have been aware of all of this, so that when she reached out in faith and hope, he reached back with his healing touch.

We hear a like story in that of Jairus’ daughter, again, unnamed.  Jairus is a man of faith and hope too.  Realizing that his daughter is gravely ill and that physical death may be imminent, he reaches out to someone he believes can help.  Again, Jesus reaches back in love and caring, confirming Jairus’ faith in him.

An endnote on the 2 females with no names—what we don’t name has no power and is more easily forgotten.

So, are these two stories just for 2,000 years ago or do they have something to say to us today?  I would say they demonstrate for us how we are to be in our world.  We need to see past the fears that cause all of us to act less than divine and at times, less than human.  We need to see another’s suffering and pain as if it were our own.

Most of us understand the dynamic when it is about our own children, our families—those we hold dear—most of us would take on a loved one’s suffering if it meant sparing them.  Jesus’ words are instructive here—“do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”  If there is any key to the good life—what is good for each one of us, it is this one idea—if we wouldn’t like or appreciate an action, odds are good, others wouldn’t either!  We have to make that child at the border, our child, and then act accordingly!  Those of us who attended the Interfaith Prayer Service yesterday heard Pastor Robert Hicks ask, “Do you know where your children are tonight?”—meaning of course that the children taken from their parents at the border, because my friends, these children are our children!

Sometimes our actions aren’t so much about fear in losing something we have that cause us to respond in less than good ways, but might be more about greed in not wanting to share what we have.  This almost seems to be a worse reason to act without love.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians has some wisdom to share in that regard when he says, “The one who gathered much has no excess and the one who gathered little did not go short.”  As followers of our brother Jesus, we each have to deal with this one.  If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that, “we did not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, but that we had a good deal of help along the way.  So, if we are doing well, according to Paul, and Jesus would agree, we owe a share to others who may not be in a position to help themselves now.  We could just as easily find ourselves in need one day!

So, as someone said recently, “I am saddened that we even have to talk about all these issues” and I would add, again and again!  But, we must not stop, we must keep caring—we must keep reaching out with our healing touches.  And don’t ever underestimate any “touch” any action that you do—it all is, “light in our darkness” and we never know how our single action will multiply to make a difference for good in our family, city, church, country and world.  Amen?  Amen!