My friends, some of you may have wondered as you heard the chosen readings for today, “Of what good are these messages for me in my life.” My first read of these Scriptures left me feeling somewhat the same. From the standpoint of a homilist, I found myself thinking, what can I say of any merit here? Some homilists have been known to choose alternate readings to speak on when confronted with such readings.
I will begin by saying that I never have swayed from the readings of a particular Sunday, unless the Mass takes on a different view such as when we do our Mary Magdala service each year on a Sunday. I choose not to sway from the given readings for the most part because I truly feel that the Spirit can and does work through even the most seemingly negative and hard to apply readings, giving direction for our present day lives. This week’s set of readings definitely call us to get beyond the surface level and dig deeper for a meaning that we can hold onto. This is true definitely for the first reading from Maccabees and for the gospel reading from Luke as well.
The first reading from Maccabees is hard to get through as we contemplate the cruelty of the Greeks toward their Jewish captives, much less attempt to find a meaning to carry into our day-to-day lives—but we must try.
The gospel reading from Luke finds Jesus trying to take the powers-that-be, in his day to that deeper level as well, rather than quibbling over who should have possession of a wife in the next life, that all were married to in this life. Jesus, as in so many other cases must simply tell his challengers to, “get out of their small boxes,” realizing that God is offering them so much more, “that we can’t even imagine,” now.
The second reading from Paul to the Thessalonians is probably of most comfort and direction as it bears a message, that at face value, is of meaning for us today. “Pray that we may be delivered from confused and evil persons.” And additionally, “pray that the Word of Christ may progress and be hailed by many.”
It is always important that we remember, who we are, who we profess to follow, and as the Scripture says, [make present through your lives] “the Word of Christ.” At the end of the day, the “prayers” must be translated into action, if we are to claim that we are “Christians”—followers of our brother Jesus.
Taking today’s readings, as a whole, I would say, they question us about, “what we are willing to commit to, in our lives, to make life better, and not just for ourselves, but for others too!” As in the first reading, we are definitely called to faith, no matter what life may bring.
This past week, our president, Joe Biden, spoke to the nation –to all of us, in a non-partisan way, even though his detractors would disagree, asking that we would all protect our democratic way of living –that our actions as a nation would reflect the rights of the many, not just of the few, looking for power over the others.
He made this speech knowing full-well that many hearing him don’t hold the same values, but trusting that some, if not all, would rise to their best selves and protect our democratic way that looks out for the good of all, against the selfishness and ignorance of some.
Additionally, he spoke against the violence arising from individuals and groups who will only accept results that play into their needs to control as we move into elections this next week. The president didn’t say it in so many words, but it is good to remember that our country was founded because of such abuse of power where the rights of all were not considered.
The Scriptures today, as I have said, call us to “dig deep” for the values that guide our lives—those things that get us out of bed every day—those things that are about our own good and that of our families, and additionally, about the good of all others too! Christianity calls us to no less!
You are all aware that Robert and I were away for almost three weeks this fall visiting friends and family members in somewhat of an epic trip across the western part of our country and back, covering some 4600 miles by car. Given that we just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and the fact that we are both in our 70’s—age-wise, the thought came to us many times, that this is likely our last trip of this kind.
Now, while that may sound disconcerting to hear or think about, we realized the beauty too in thinking over these past, many years, both the ups and the downs, the joys, and the opportunities, and coming to a place of gratitude for all that has been.
As I listened to our president speak this past week, I heard his call, from the standpoint of his many years, to strive for our own personal best, not only for ourselves, but for all. He moves and acts out of his own, personal Catholic faith and Christian values, as does each of us—values that don’t allow any of us to stop caring, even when discouraged by actions in our world that seem far less than, good.
So, because we all need the hope that good does win over evil, I will leave you with a few “nuggets of gold” from my last week or two:
- (From the news) –a little boy who had lost both his mom and dad, in separate ways, and was now living with an aunt, decided not to dwell on sadness, but to turn his grief on its head, so to speak, and instead strive to make others, smile. He asked his aunt if they could buy some small plastic toys and go out into the community, gifting a toy to people they met in order to get them to smile. He was able to make many smile, as we can imagine, and who knows how far the goodness went!
- A little dog named Charlie, who has come into the lives of our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, has become, an, “in-your-face” lover, and so it goes…
- I shared this last week, but it bears repeating, lay-led Unitarian Universalist communities are encouraged to begin all their services with a warm welcome to everyone present, making it most clear that the welcome is to each one, “just as you are”—happy, sad, disappointed, disillusioned—ready -to-quit, it doesn’t matter—you are welcome!
Friends, there is much to be sad about in our world, but just for today, let’s “dig deep” to be hope-filled, faith-filled, loving, and willing to be our best, for ourselves and all others. And if you haven’t yet voted, do it soon, voting for those individuals who are committed too toward being their best, if they are given the chance to serve. Amen? Amen!