Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

   My friends, as we move through Ordinary Time, we continue to see how this time in the Church calendar is anything, but “ordinary!”  In fact, our lives as Christians should always, or at least often, stand above the fray. What do I mean by that?

   Human nature tends many times toward, “not making waves,” so to speak, because it is usually, much easier, “following the crowd” than it is, “to stand alone or apart” and call the crowd to be, “better than this.”  Our brother, Jesus, called all who would follow him not only to be, “better than this,” but to the “best that we can be!”  So therefore, we cannot say that “we are Christian,” and strive to be anything, but the best that we can be—most of the time. 

   Our nation, in the last several weeks has, literally, received this call, “that we are better than this,” from the Select Committee attempting to uncover the truth about the January 6, 2021, insurrection at our Capitol in Washington, D.C.  One has to applaud and be very proud of two courageous Republicans on that committee, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who are standing on character and conscience to speak the truth, for all of us, regardless of whether it loses them political favor among their peers or from the voters. 

   Our brother Jesus asks no less from us!  Remember, as someone wisely said, “We are spiritual people, here, having a human experience, just as Jesus did.  And because we all come from the same, “spiritual dust,” we must, simply must, be true to his legacy, especially if we want to claim to be his followers.

   The Scripture selections for this Sunday take us on an interesting journey showing us just who our God is through the lives of Abraham, Jesus, and Paul.  The story relayed from Genesis in the first reading seems almost impossible to believe.  One gets the impression that Abraham thinks God looks at the world as he and other humans do.  Humans, being finite, often deal with the world, lacking mercy, justice, and goodness, and then, likewise, think God will respond to failings in the same way, as we see Abraham continuing to implore God to save the city, for fewer and fewer people.   

   Now, in order to better understand Abraham’s questions of God, we must remember that he doesn’t have the benefit of Jesus, who told us over and over of his Abba’s unending and inclusive love for all of creation through the stories of the Prodigal, the woman and man caught in adultery, and the Good Shepherd and its feminine counterpart, the woman who lost a coin and turned the house upside down to find it.  We, coming off all these stories know, instinctively, that God would spare the city if only one person would be found who had repented. 

   Jesus, in the selection from Luke today, speaks the truth about who God is, “If you know how to give your children good things, how much more will your loving God give the Spirit to those who ask.”  Jesus continues, “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened.”  Our response today from Psalm 138 says the same: “O God, on the day I called for help, you answered me.” 

   Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, speaks his truth out of the knowledge he too has of God.  Paul never knew Jesus, in the flesh—his knowledge of God came from his relationship with Jesus, the Christ.  The Christological Jesus, theologians and Scripture scholars tell us, “is big enough” for all believers in God and from all different starting points.   

   It is for this reason that Paul could preach to the Gentiles, of his God who was indeed, “big enough” to include them all. Simply put, for Paul, following Jesus, the Christ brought all good, because it was his view that Jesus, in his lifetime had shown us, “the way, the truth and the life,” and we only need to follow…

   As we look at our world friends, there is much, in my view, that needs a closer following of the ways of our brother Jesus.  You all know our present-day issues: Legislation that purports to speak for life at its beginnings is only worth taking seriously if life is considered along the entire continuum and protected and cared for at each point.  To do less, rings hollow.  Having basically, no limits on firearms in this country is insane because we all know, that the issue is not about, the individual’s “right to bear arms,” but in fact, “the industry’s “want to sell weapons,” at the expense, lately, of the lives of our children! When our beautiful earth, in different areas is either burning up or being flooded by more and more powerful storms, to not do everything in our power to attempt to halt climate change is irresponsible in the very least and life-threatening at the other end of the continuum. 

   My friends, many times we think that all these issues: the well-fare of our democracy in this country, rights, and privileges for all, and the care of our planet among other things have swung too far to be helped; but we do have strength to make a difference and for many of us, it comes down to the ballot box.  As a pastor, I cannot responsibly advocate for one candidate over another in a public way. But what I can do is follow our brother Jesus’ lead and advocate for candidates on the merit of “the fruits,” I see in their lives. 

   Jesus, in his life faced such questions about how to know the good, the truth of a person, and he simply said— “see what they produce.”  None of us who claim to be Christian should be voting for individuals who do not take seriously their oath of office to serve all the people, especially the least among us.

   Unfortunately, too many in positions of power today, in our country are more concerned about their popularity and getting re-elected than they are about serving the needs of the people, all the people, and such individuals should not have a second chance.  Unfortunately, this is true of many in Church leadership too!  “Check the fruits!” Amen?  Amen!