27th Sunday in Ordinary Time A

My week certainly had a theme.  It started at a Girls’ soccer game on Monday.  Someone I knew but who does not belong to our parish, was staring out at the field after the game.  I caught her attention and she said she had been in deep thought in light of the tragedy in Las Vegas the night before.  Shen then asked me what I was going to do to get my flock stirred up to respond.  To which I said, “Back off.  It’s my flock.”  Not really.  Then, as never happens, there was an item on the School Board agenda that said “Open Forum.”  We got into a long and passionate discussion about violence, race and divisiveness in our country.  Finally, while eating dinner at a friend’s house, the same thing happened.  The Lord only needs to knock on my door three times to get my attention.

And it occurred to me that whether the people who perpetrate these horrible acts are politically motivated or not, they were all taking aim at one thing:  hope.  They were trying to tell us not to invest in one another, to see as enemy the ones who are different, to believe that reconciliation is impossible and that life is not precious.  They we making their statement loudly in racist chants and silently at the business end of a rifle.

Then came this week’s Gospel that seems to confirm the darkness we all share.  It represents the breakdown of cooperation, polarization and the reliance on violence we are all too familiar with from headlines and cable news.  We have seen this before and Jesus I believe is challenging to draw a new conclusion that is built on his values – peace, hope, blessedness and love.

Thank God for St. Paul’s beautiful word to the Philippians in the second reading.  “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Our destiny is in “these things,” and not the horror of another.  We do not surrender hope because it has been planted deeply within us.  We do give up on reconciliation because we have already been reconciled by the cross.  We champion peace because our eternity is based upon it.

For this I believe is a Christian moment.  There are answers we possess in our heritage that are uniquely suited to this time and place.  Our hope is literally unassailable for it is not in a politics or a philosophy or even a point of view.  It is in a person, Jesus Christ, and the utter conviction that what he has promised cannot be taken away –that he has already triumphed over evil.

This I believe is a Christian moment.  For we have something to say about violence and inclusion and peacemaking because Jesus Christ had something to say about it.  This is not a Democratic moment or a Republican moment.  It is not a liberal moment or a conservative moment.  It is not a moment for a philosophy or a trend.  It is time for a people encased in the values of Christ.  It is time for the Body of Christ to express itself and shine light in the darkness and tell truth to power.  It is what we were made for and why we were called.

To be a Christian in these times, we must act like our Savior who listened patiently to the other and cared about their story.  Who took people where they were and did not wait for their perfection.  Who included sinners who then became saints.  Who asked questions and did not castigate his opponents.

But to simply say this is a Christian moment does not mean it will happen.  We are fully capable of letting the moment skip through our hands.  If we do not have the courage of our convictions, the faith to express ourselves and an understanding of discipleship, our truth, no matter how true, will not affect the world.  We must have the strength to invite people here so that the Body of Christ is built up.  Lacking that, we must have speak of the hope and the beauty we have discovered in the Gospel.  And if that too is impossible, at the very least we must act like Jesus Christ who never judged character, but built it.

It seems the very earth is crying out for the Prince of Peace.  But is he is to remain in our pocket, our own personal possession for holiness and then heaven, then his light is not allowed to shine on others.  If his voice is not heard, how will it soothe?  Jesus has already told us who we are. We are light of the world.  Darkness is growing and only light can expel it.  Will we dare to be Christ’s beacon for all the world?

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