“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11
As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, we lift every voice to the dawn’s early light and the words of Jesus from the gospel of Matthew. Leaving behind the worn-out broken paths and unbearable burdens of our own lives, is counter to what the gods of this world, to which we have yoked ourselves, promise and proclaim. And this invitation to his yoke and burden is not without cost. Total humility before God and one another is the price of true freedom. Who is not weary, and does not want rest? The challenge of fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all is clear. And far from being merely comfortable words, Jesus’ invitation is a call to action, echoing the words of the prophets before him, and Amos’ cup of rushing waters of justice and righteousness. We are ‘prisoners of hope’ the prophet Zechariah reminds us as he pointed to an anointed donkey rider whose blood – even in rejection – would seal God’s covenant. The great Roman Catholic monk, Thomas Merton wrote, ‘To hope is to risk frustration. Make up your mind to risk frustration.’ So, the risk and the cost are clear in the promise of Jesus the Hope Incarnate.
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor, grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit as we pray today for our nation:Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to us and the leaders of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple– truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Matt. 10
As Christians there’s a foundation of solid rock on which we stand. This Rock, a stepping stone in the daily journey of twists and turns, starts and stops, pits and obstacles, guides us along the Way in which Jesus tells us we are Spirit-joined-together. The Way of true Life – joy, pain, sorrow and rejoicing- the way of Welcome and sharing the Life-giving Water that gushes from the Rock – even – and especially in the cup of our cold, real, honest presence in the world. It’s God’s miracle, from God’s hand, in God’s plan for his kingdom to come here on earth as in is heaven. Everyone, every day, all the time: feeding 5 thousand, feeding 5 million, feeding 1. Water, Rock and you.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” From MT10
As we come to the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Jesus words in the Gospel of Matthew remind us of the challenge of true peace. And we see in his words the reflection of a divided world which extended from His own time, to the present day. The world around us is divided and will remain divided as long as we seek answers in the broken institutions of this broken world. If we seek to find our lives by bowing to and exalting the idols of political power, wealth, and philosophies of superiority, all will be lost. But the answer to unity and true peace is found in turning from the idols of this world and choosing something – someone – above the chaos around us. His name is Jesus.
As we’ve gathered apart united by the Spirit, in our separation we long for the coming time when we can be – gathered all together in one place – as the apostles were on Pentecost. And in a world divided and enslaved by sin we continue to pray for restoration and change and a “one place” of united healing for all. On this Sunday of the Feast of Corpus Christi – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ we celebrate the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Saved by the Blood of Jesus we cry out in the words of St. Thomas Aquinas in acknowledgment of this holy mystery:
O saving Victim opening wide the gate of Heaven to us below, our foes press on from every side, your aid supply, your strength bestow.
We look forward to celebrating together and receiving the bread of heaven which restores us, let us recall Jesus’ words: “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” And we pray that this Real Healing Presence and Real Answer to our Real Problems will become manifest and incarnate in our lives and actions, our words and deeds – that we may recognize and acknowledge His Presence in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and in the hearts and lives of those around us:
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in life of friend and stranger.
And God saw that it was good…
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Trinity – our belief in the One God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – One God: the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier. The Three in One and One in Three. In his proclamation of the Trinity St. Athanasius declared it to be “incomprehensible” – beyond our limited human understanding. Today as we celebrate our belief in the One God, we cry out with many in the world in the declaration that Black Lives Matter and in condemnation of the Lie of White Supremacy and the other many lies by which the world operates.
When our God finished creating the world, he declared it to be “Good”. But it didn’t take long for the Lie to enter with the promise: You can be like God. And so, knowing good and evil but unable to always know the difference, humanity was cast out to live in brokenness according to the Lie in its many forms.
As a counter to Lie, the Church offers an ancient symbol representing the Trinity and the unity and power of God. Three equal, distinct parts united as One, in whose image we were created. The lies have blinded us to this reality in which we were created. May God heal us of our brokenness, that justice and mercy might prevail, and that we may daily be faithful to the reality in which we were created: all Good, all Brothers and Sisters, all Children of God.
When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
The wait was over – the 50th day had come and there was a fiery commotion – wild wind, tongues, languages they didn’t know they knew – all praising God’s deeds of power – the Holy Spirit filling them as the Gift of 7 arrived: wisdom and understanding-counsel and fortitude-knowledge and piety – and the fear of the LORD. The promise of Ascension had arrived but they still wondered “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!?” Like most wisdom- it would be made clear down the road – as they opened their hearts and God moved the mountains of dismay and doubt. Peter saw the last great day of the LORD – the Hour that now Is-
when everyone who cries out to the Lord will be saved.
About this hour, Meister Eckhart the 14th century german theologian said: “The most important hour is always the present; the most significant person is precisely the one who is sitting across from you right now; the most necessary work is always love.”
Looking up and keeping on
The disciples wondering again, looked up as their Bread – their Door – their Shepherd – their Friend disappeared into the clouds. Wondering, “What now?”. It’s a thought we’ve shared over the past months. And hopefully like the disciples we’ve remembered to look up according to the faith handed down to us, looking up past the chaos and fear around us, looking up beyond the experts and authorities who say “Look at ME!” Looking up to our Bread and Life, our Door and Way, our Shepherd and Friend. And seeing things anew we await the Pentecost Gift, the Spirit who leads us on.
Fear of the Unknown and the unknown god
Paul saw a lot of things in the streets as he shared the Good News. And one thing struck him which spoke to the need of humanity – an inscription on one of the many altars he came across and which said it all: ‘to an unknown god’. In the streets, virtual and paved – of our now masked, “new normal” world, fear of the unknown creates the desperate need for, and void of, answers and assurance. The void is vast and those who would fill it are legion, for blind fear drives the heart to grasp at almost anything. With the unknowing of god, our world bows to the idols of modernity which are pretty much the same that Paul encountered. Fear and its perpetuation proliferate where there is no certainty and the conflicting voices of the void ring out. But like Paul we share a God who we’re not afraid to know or make known – a God for all. Let us pray for ourselves and our world and its void as we daily receive and share Him who stills all fear.
Know Jesus. Know Peace.
“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2.10
During a time of temptation and confusion, Peter is encouraging the people who were drawn to alternate ways of receiving and sharing in the blessings of God, to hold fast to what they had been taught. Comparing them to ‘newborn infants’ he urges them on, reminding them that keeping the faith is a challenge and that stumbling is inevitable. He reminds them of their chosen-ness – by God to receive love and mercy. Today we celebrate Mother’s Day as we give thanks for their love and mercy in bringing us into the world and sustaining us as we grew from newborn infants to wherever we find ourselves – young and growing children or still growing (hopefully! in many ways), adults. In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of being ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ and growing up I think we all found out at some point that Mama was similarly -way, truth, and life. As growing babes, it didn’t take much faith to find that out especially when you strayed from the way – and a hind whooping was impending. But after the “correction”, the judgement was transfigured into the truth of love and mercy – and new life. A lesson learned for both mother and child. We were scared and cried but when her arms were soon again open, we rushed back. And she too breathed a sigh of relief – both mother and child exulting in Love’s completion and fulfillment: Mercy.
Though we walk through the valley of the shadow we shall fear no evil. Ps. 23
We realize now what we never did before except in fleeting glimpses – much of this world is in the valley of the shadow- we see now how everything in this valley world is connected and much of it broken. We see now the gaps and distortions and illusions and it is overwhelming at times. We are sheep people and all the sheep are affected. But if there’s a valley that means there’s a mountain somewhere; a mountain with green pastures, high and above the shadows which have become too real. Staying on the right path helps and the Shepherd has opened a way if we can walk in His strength and follow. The only time to look down is to watch for the snakes in the grass. The challenge is to keep looking up and lifting up – the Shepherd rises before us – Jesus the Gate – Jesus the Lamb -Jesus the Way, Truth, Life. Let us listen to His voice and help one another and others along the way. Fear no evil – Pray Strong – Stay Strong – Bless God – God Bless!