Friends, on this Earth Day, I am going to “cut to the chase” this weekend which brings us to the 3rd week of Easter and say very simply and succinctly that the message we all should reflect on as we ponder today’s readings is— “It’s all about love!”
Now that having been said, next; we need to understand that to truly love is a most challenging activity! It calls us— “this loving” to be our very best selves. It calls us in our present-day world to somehow get past ignorant statements in place of leadership, selfishness when merciful governing is called for, and move toward those who are truly leading in our Congress and State houses, keeping our eyes on their reflections—witnessing that while, difficult, are what is best for our nation and our world.
Today’s gospel from Luke lifts up the fact that in the strange, fearful, yet hope-filled times after Jesus’ rising to new life, people, like those disciples on the way to Emmaus didn’t know Jesus until he did “something that was familiar to them.” Scripture says, “Their eyes were opened” when he “broke the bread.” This action of, “breaking the bread,” we must remember, is sign and symbol of Jesus’ own “breaking open” of his entire life—for all of creation, showing us how to truly live.
In our time we must move beyond the present chaos, of so many things that plague our Church and Nation: misdirection about issues of gender and sexual expression—the consideration of what constitutes “life,” and whose life is most important, time and energy being spent on “Eucharistic Conferences” designed to keep the “Eucharist” in a tiny, little box with no connection to the “real presence” in the world of Jesus, the Christ. We must ask, “What is it now that truly “breaks our hearts open” and as the disciples on the way to Emmaus, makes those same hearts, “burn within us?”
“Being our best selves” in these times that calls for nothing less, will help us to understand the truth when we hear it—truth that works for the good of all, as opposed to lies that are simply—self-serving and many times, dangerous. On the other hand, our hearts “break open and burn within us” when we hear the head* of the United Nations Food Program share the truth that millions of people in this world are on a trajectory toward starvation! This number tends to double when anything extra is added, like a world virus, climate catastrophe, etc. *This information was from 3 years ago, but the same could be said today about starvation.
Last week we talked about what perhaps needs to be “resurrected” within each of us to make Jesus’ resurrection complete. For me, it comes down to, listening with a heart truly broken open to what our God is trying to tell us, now, in 2023.
What faces our world, like the call of our brother Jesus, is all about rising to the occasion and becoming all that we can be. Being OK with the fact that more than half of the people in this world live on less than $10,000 a year is not being our best. Being OK with the fact that millions of people are headed toward starvation if not for the United Nations feeding them weekly is not being our best selves. Being OK with the fact that poor and dark-skinned people in this world are hardest hit when a pandemic, or any other catastrophe hits, is not being our best selves and should call us to make some long-term changes .
And you might say—well, Pastor, I’m not OK with any of this! And even though it hurts me to say it, because I indict myself as well, if we don’t actively work to change the present disparity between the rich and the poor in our world, we ARE OK with it!
All of the readings this Sunday speak to the idea of “being on a journey.” In the 1st reading from Luke in Acts; we hear that God “sent” Jesus with “miracles and signs”—which [show us], “the path to life.” Psalm 16 confirms this notion, “You will show me the path that leads to life.” Peter, in the 2nd reading, consuls, that we should, “conduct ourselves reverently during our sojourn in a strange land.” The gospel, also from Luke speaks of disciples, “on their way to Emmaus.”
Today, our world celebrates Earth Day plus 50 years. We have been on a long journey trying to save our planet these past 50 years—there have been ups and downs on this journey. The “ups” are reflective of the “reverencing” that Peter speaks of today—the literal, breaking open of our hearts at our earthly home’s beauty, so much so that we have been willing to be about initiatives with the countries of the world to save our planet from global warming. The “downs” of course, are reflective of a lack of that same “reverencing.” I have to wonder at our diocesan Church in Winona/Rochester, planning to “reverence” the Eucharist in the “mere bread” without making the vital—connection to our beautiful, and in some ways, dying planet.
Sometimes my friends, the concerns of our daily lives are all, it seems, that we can handle, and that notion is reflective of my life as it is of yours. As you know, I am recovering from knee surgery and that is about all that I can handle just now. I say this, not to garner sympathy, but to let you know that I’m cognizant of the reality of “life” at times.
We are all on a unique journey together—all belief systems have a sense of this, and this journey is toward an existence greater than this one; where all people—no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, financial status, or any other, perceived impediment, will be welcomed.
I began this homily with the statement that basically, “it is all about love” and the challenge that to truly love, is no small task. I would like to conclude with some words from a ballad by local, singer-songwriter, John Smith, entitled, “Love’s Not Through With Me Yet!”
I included mention of this ballad three years ago in a homily and I know that in the past, I have thought of its sentiment in a somewhat negative way, thinking that “love is not through with me yet, because I am not yet doing it right. But this go-around finds me thinking more positively: John Smith very poetically asks, “Can you love without needing?”—which speaks to the notion that “love” is bigger than just about me. And again, he asks, “Can you love without bleeding?” which is all about the “reverencing” that we must show toward our earth and its people. And if you can do these things, than basically, there is hope for our world, because, indeed, “love isn’t through with us yet!”
After the resurrection, Mary Magdala and the disciples on the way to Emmaus knew Jesus when he did something, “familiar”— “calling her by name,” and “breaking bread” with them. Let us know and realize, that as Jesus’ followers, what others should recognize in us as, “familiar” is doing the “good” and the “right” in our world and for its people. Amen? Amen!