Twenty-sixth Sunday 2006
I’m sure you know what writer’s block is. It’s when you get stuck, when you just don’t know what to say next. It’s like there is a major obstacle you’re facing in your writing and you have to wait till something happens, the creative spirit swoops down on you again and you’re free to write.
You may also have heard of preacher’s block. Same thing. The creative spirit is just not flowing. It feels like you have a huge mill stone around your neck, called a homily and you keep praying for God’s spirit to inspire, inspirit you.
Yes, that’s where I have been with today’s homily. It’s not for want of good things to talk about. These are powerful scriptures. They could easily lend themselves to a good hell fire and brimstone sermon, like we hear from James and Jesus
Come now you rich weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away. It will devour your flesh like a fire.
If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God maimed than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
OR we could talk about the scriptures calling us to task for being too narrow-minded. Both Moses and Jesus have to deal with the myopic vision of their followers. They’re not one of us , they say. They may be doing good things. But they don’t have the “Seal of approval”. Dare I say that this is the same thing we hear from the Church when it says “you cannot preach in the liturgical assembly because you are not “ordained” to preach. you don’t have the seal of approval. (I dare not) Dare I say that “ordination” may be one of those stumbling blocks that may get in the way of the people of God hearing the spirit moving in women and men who don’t have the official seal of approval. No I don’t dare say that.
Of we could do a kinder, gentler reflection from “whoever gives a cup of cold water in my name”. Relief. That I can handle. Everybody does nice things once in a while.
There is lots to talk about. But honestly, what is most important is not what’s on my mind but what’s on Jesus’ mind. The question is how will you meet Christ , hear Christ speaking to us individually and communally.
Can we hear Jesus, himself, reminding us that we are here because we have a mission. WE have a purpose. WE share a mission “in the name of Jesus”. That’s why what we do is called the Mass, not because it lots of people but rather because we are a people sent, that’s what mission means. And not just sent to do good works, to live lives of charity. Followers of Jesus have no monopoly on charity and good works. But WE are sent in the name of Jesus Christ. What could that possibly mean? In the name of Jesus, In the name of JEsus
It may mean that we don’t walk away from difficult social issues like homelessness and hunger. It may mean that we engage ourselves in the issues of peace and justice. It may mean that we don’t turn away from the person in our family and or parish community who feels like a millstone around our necks. Someone who is facing obstacles in his or her life and who needs your help. It may mean entering prisons and working with illegal immigrants. It may mean working for religious understanding with people who do not recognize the name of Jesus in the way that we do. Whatever it means for you, you’re called and sent because Jesus is challenging you, goading you, reminding you that in him you have life.
For me it means going to immigration court to help my long time friend, Joseph who painted this picture for me. Joseph, who, I have known for better and for worse for about 15 years is about to be deported. Joseph suffers from serious mental illness. He hears voices. And when he is not on his medication, he has done some things that have gotten him in trouble with the law. Thanks be to God we have found him a lawyer who hasn’t yet walked away from the challenges of helping those who have nothing and no one. So he will try to plead that Joseph be allowed to stay here under the convention against torture.
I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to walk away and forget about Joseph and his problems but then there’s the voice of Jesus saying. Whoever gives these little ones a cup of cold water in my name….
In my name. In the name of Jesus. At the name of Jesus. There’s the spirit, the creative surge. There’s the preachers’ block removed. There’s the scandal, the stumbling block of the cross. There ‘s the suffering of God’s people that we sent to heal. There is the power and the glory of Jesus reflected in our lives, if we will only listen.