The title of my homily for this 19th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “The Great Divorce.”
That theme was triggered from today’s two readings - which present strong story
and challenging teaching.
In the first reading from Ezekiel 16: 1-15, 60, 63, we have a powerful parable about Israel. She is
pictured being born as a little baby
girl. She is thrown on the ground as something ugly. She grows and develops
into a beautiful young lady. Then God
says that as I passed by you I saw you were mature and ready for love. I put a
cloak over you to cover your nakedness. I washed you. I anointed you. I put on
you the finest embroidered gown and leather sandals and robes of silk and a
linen sash. I put on you jewelry - bracelets, a necklace. I put a ring in your
nose, pendants on your ears, a crown on your head. They I fed you with the
finest food. You were a queen. Then you forgot me. You became captivated by
your own beauty. You became a prostitute. In spite of all this, God says He
will forgive Israel.
He’ll remember his covenant and his promise.
The gospel from Matthew talks about the question and the horror
of divorce and applies it individual couples breaking a covenant. People can
make wrong choices and hurt the other.
The title of my homily is, “The Great Divorce.”
BOOK: THE GREAT
That’s the title of a book by C.S. Lewis that began coming
out in serial form in 1944-45. It was next put into a book. It has had an
impact on many people - down through the years.
It’s short: 118 pages in paperback. It’s an easy read - with a very challenging
message. It can still be found in
libraries or on line - like the other key books by C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity,
The Chronicles of Narnia and
Surprised by Joy.
The Great Divorce
is a parable. It’s also a great dream. The Great Divorce would be separating and breaking up with God.
The main character - the narrator - is in a grey zone - a gray area. Everything is
vague - strange - unsure. The figures he sees are ghostlike figures. They are floating
- moving along. It’s hell. It’s purgatory. It’s not heaven. Heaven is the
bright light area ahead - that he and all are being called to - but the ghosts
are hesitant to go there.
He senses his thinness of spirit. He’s feels his self-deception
through and through. He feels called to go backwards. Yet he’s also called to
move forwards towards heaven.
It’s a good read. It’s intriguing.
At the end he senses great blocks of something falling on
He wakes up. It’s books that have fallen in his room.
And much of The Great Divorce is
interspiced and interwoven with ideas for other books: Augustine, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Dante, Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking
Glass, and science fiction works. They are the books that can wake us up.
Except for the Science Fiction books, I’ve read them all.
They are the type of book that I need to get back to - the classics - the great
parables. If we keep those classics in mind, we can be inspired more by Ezekiel
- and his parables and stories.
I gave a sermon here a bunch of years ago - about dying and
waking up in the outskirts of heaven and we find ourselves heading for a bus
stop - and we get a choice to take this bus ride and tour of heaven to make our
choice where we want to get off. Surprise, I’m reading about The Great Divorce which I had read in
the seminary - only to discover that C.S. Lewis used the image of the bus
heading for heaven as well. It wasn’t plagiarism. I was a good bit different -
but the major image was there in C.S. Lewis. After being humbled for not being
that original, I got the message to keep reading good stuff - because it sticks
Good news. The Great Divorce has been put on as a play in
2004 and February of this year - and is going to come out as a movie in 2013. I
don’t know how major it will be, but I’m sure it will be around for us to see
and be moved by - and allow it to become part of our thinking - so that we’ll
avoid The Great Divorce: Hell, separation from God.
Quote for Today - August 16, 2012 "To go through life without ever being converted to anything seems a mark of insensitiveness. The ideal world would be a world in which everybody was capable of conversion and in which at the same time the converts would admit the possibility that they might be mistaken." Robert Lynd [1879-1949]
The title of my homily is, “Assumptions About Life After
The feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven is very
It was not declared a dogma, i.e. something we’re asked to believe in as
Catholics till November 1, 1950. Yet it
has been an understanding - an assumption - since at least the 5th and 6th
centuries. There are earlier documents - some of them are of “iffy” origin - which talk about the Assumption of Mary.
Next there is the issue whether Mary died or whether Mary
simply fell asleep - the so called “Dormition of Mary” and was asssumed into
heaven. In the proclamation and declaration of Mary’s Assumption on November 1,
1950, Pope Pius XII cleverly worded the
decree leaving both traditions as possibles. From what I was taught and
from what I have read, Mary’s death and then Assumption is the better position.
Either way the Assumption is a Resurrection teaching. If
Jesus did not rise from the dead, if Jesus wasn’t assumed into heaven, Mary
wasn’t either. Mary is linked to Christ - obviously.
I’m assuming that this homily should be reasonably short,
because folks have had long days and have to get some supper. So let me assume
to put three possible ideas on your plate - to chew on for today - on this
Feast of the Assumption.
As to the readings of the day, I can’t identify Mary with
dragons and battles in the sky as we heard in the first reading from the Book of Revelation, but I can identify
with her in down home story of Mary visiting Elizabeth - and then proclaiming the
FIRST IDEA - ON THE TABLE
Theoretically someone could put set up a series of folding tables
in a big hall and put on each table various teachings of various peoples and
groups about what’s going to happen after we die.
On one table someone could put one piece of paper with the
words: “Nothing. That’s it. You die. That’s the end of you!”
On another table or tables could be teachings about
reincarnation - and the various religious strains that teach and promote that.
On other tables could be teachings from various religions
about an afterlife: Judaism, Islam, Christianity, etc.
At the Catholic Table - there would be the central teaching:
“Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.” That was the main refrain at Mass after the
consecration from the 1970’s till 2011. It was the one we all knew - could sing
easier - and it’s the one they dropped. On that same table would be a Greek
ikon - a picture or image of Christ rising - because the Eastern Orthodox and
Greek and Russian Uniate Christian Churches stressed the Resurrection more than
the Western and Roman Church up till the 1950’s. There would also be a picture
of Mary - being assumed into heaven. There could also be a copy of Dante’s
Trilogy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso.
At other tables could be some really interesting off beat
takes on what happens after we die.
If I was setting up the exhibit I would have a separate
table for jokes about the afterlife. There are many. You’ve heard variations on
the scenario that when you get to heaven you get a tour given by St. Peter. As
he takes us by different rooms he goes “Shhh!” Then he gives us a peek into a
big room filled with a lot of people.” Then he closes the door and we ask, “Who
are they?” “Shhh,” he says, “They are
the Baptists and they think they are the only ones here.” Then they go by
another room, “Shh!” and we find out they are Catholics. Some of them also
think they are the only one’s there. And on and on and on - room after room -
till we get to this really big room where everyone is laughing and eating. We
ask Peter who they are. He says, “It’s a mix of folks from everywhere.” Then St.
Peter says, “Which room do you want to be in?”
That’s my first thought: the image of the tables - and the
rooms and all the different known possibilities on what happens after death.
The second thought would be to chew on and digest two
biblical texts. Both are from Paul. Both are from 1st Corinthians.
In chapter 15 Paul is saying,
“Everything is based on the resurrection of Christ. If he didn’t rise from the
dead, the whole enterprise called our faith is fake - false. We’re a bunch of
fools.” The second biblical text is from
chapter 2: “Eye has not seen, ear has
not heard, nor has it ever really entered into the human mind, what God has
prepared for those who love him.”
So the basic thing to chew on is what Paul is saying, “We
are basing our whole life on Christ - here and hereafter.
The image I thought of this morning for this position is
from one of my favorite movies: My Cousin
Vinny. Two young men - Bill Gambini and Stan Rothenstein - are going through rural Alabama
on their way to school in Florida.
They are arrested and charged for a robbery and a murder in a small grocery
store - Sack of Suds. One has a cousin, Vinny Gambini, who is a lawyer - and
calls him in New York
for help. Vinny at first is a disaster. The other kid goes with a public
defender who also is a disaster. It
looks helpless. However, Vinny starts becoming spectacular and the non-nephew,
Stan says “I’m dropping my lawyer. Then
pointing to Vinny says, “I’m with him. I want him.”
We want help. We want freedom, salvation, redemption,
liberation, life after death and we Christians are yelling to Jesus, “I want you!”
THIRD THOUGHT TO CHEW ON AND DIGEST
The third thought or image to chew on and digest is that the
Mass - is a glimpse and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet and table.
We come in here today - on Sundays - funerals - weddings -
etc. because we believe it’s all connected.
But hopefully, there is no “Shush” if someone looked in the
door and saw us here today. We’re proud to be in here - folks from all over the
world - born Catholic Christians - as well as folks from many different religions
- who believe God is calling all - to eternal life - and the eternal banquet -
starting with Jesus - followed by Mary - followed by us. Amen.
Quote for Today -August 15, 2012 "That life is worth living is the most necessary of assumptions, and, were it not assumed, the most impossible of conclusions." George Santayana [1863-1952] The Life of Reason [1905-1906], Vol. 1, Reason in Common Sense, a Questions If someone asked you what is the most necessary of assumptions, what would your answer be? If someone asked you the greatest of assumptions, what would it be? Would it be about the here or the hereafter? What's your take on the Resurrection of Christ after his death on the cross? Slowly read what Paul is saying in his First Letter to the Corinthians 15: 12-19 - better 15: 12 to 58. Is he saying the Resurrection of Jesus is the greatest assumption we can make. What's your take on the Assumption of Mary in light of that assumption? What does Fulton J. Sheen preach as the key to what makes life worth living - the name of his TV Show? Ikon on top: Up there near the ceiling in the Hagia Sophia Museum - formerly a Christian Basilica - in Istanbul. How come it and the ikons of Christ were not removed?
The title of my homily for this 19th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is from John 1: 14,"Eat The Words So That The Word Can Became Flesh and Dwell Among Us.”
In the Jerusalem Bible - there are lots of text references - next to the text - more than most other Bibles. Along side John 1:14-15 there are 10 references - but there is no reference to today’s first reading from Ezekiel 3: 1-3. Well, I would add it so as to connect the 2 texts.
Ezekiel in the temple is told to take the scroll with its words and eat it - digest it - be satisfied with the words - experience them as sweet as honey - and then go and proclaim that word to the House of Israel.
Isn’t that what happened to Mary? She heard the word of God from the angel - the messenger. She said “Yes” to that word and she became pregnant with the Word of God - which was as sweet as honey - and she brought forth Jesus 9 months later - to the House of Israel - to the world.
Eating words - digesting words …. Isn’t that a great image for those who preach and those who attend Bible Studies? We eat up the word - we digest the word - the word becomes us - and we bring that word - Jesus Christ - to our world - in our flesh.
When I see folks eating donuts and cookies, sometimes - sometimes - I love to say what I heard some thin guy once say to his wife in a church hall, “A minute on the lips, a year on the hips” and of course she threw the rest of her donut at him - and we all laughed.
A word on our lips - a word in our ears - a word moving into our heart - and then that word can be in us not just for a year - but for a lifetime.
HOW MUCH OF THE BIBLE HAVE WE DIGESTED?
How much of the Bible have we digested? How much of the Bible has become us? How many times have we sat down at the banquet of the word?
We are our parents' egg and seed. We are our mother’s blood and love. We are our parents' language, their words to us, their care for us. We are their values, their attitudes. We are their style. We are them and so much more: all the other stuff we have picked up in our lives.
As Ulysses says in Tennyson’s poem with that title, “I am part of all that I have met.”
We know the old saying, “We are what we eat.” Well, we are, but we are also what we read, what we have seen. We are all that example, all that education. We are all that mix called “me”.
I am what I remember. I am a walking library. I was moved with something I heard at the death of an 80 year older. The eulogist said, ‘When an old person dies, it’s like a library is burnt down.”
I ate that statement up. It became me. It made sense. I digested it. I incorporated it. It has led me to say, “We need to read each other. We need to listen to each other. We are talking books. We need to ask old folks, ‘What was it like?’” It has led me to push and promote writing one’s autobiography.
How much of the Bible is us? We’d be amazed. We have done what Ezekiel has done in today’s first reading. Many of these texts are me, myself and I. These words of the Bible are in our DNA of our thinking - and our attitudes.
They are behind our behavior. They have helped and pushed us to love others - to forgive others - to love children - especially the neglected one’s as we heard in today’s gospel - to have compassion on the people who mess up - the lost sheep in our families and our lives - that we heard about in today’s gospel as well.
Today - August 14 - is the feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe. In 1941 he was in Auschwitz. Three prisoners had escaped - so 10 prisoners were picked to be starved to death as a warning. Franciszek Gajowniczek screamed out, “My wife. My children.” Maximillian Kolbe heard those words. He volunteered to take his place. When he was dying by starvation, to make room, they gave him a lethal injection of poison. Motive: what was his motive. Answer: Love. Answer the text: “Greater love than this no one had - but to lay down his or her life for his or her friends.” (John 15:13)
So keep feasting - keep digesting - keep on eating the word of God like Ezekiel did. A minute in the ear, a lifetime in our way of being for the rest of our years. Amen.
Quote for Today August 14, 2012 "Many things in the Bible I cannot understand; many things in the Bible I only think I understand; but there are many things in the Bible I cannot misunderstand." Anonymous
The title of my homily for this 19th Monday in
Ordinary time is, “Close, But No Cigar.”
I was tempted to call this homily, “Go Figure!” Isn’t that what we humans do all the time? How many times a day are we trying to figure
out what someone is talking about. At Mass we are trying to figure out what the
readings are about - and we hope the preacher has some figurings that help us.
In this homily, I suspect you’ll be trying to figure out, What in the world is
he talking about?”
The title of my homily is, “Close, But No Cigar.”
How many times in our lives have we heard that phrase and
know what it means - but in a way, we’re not that sure. There’s a bit of “Go
figure!” in it.
I wonder if a TV Quiz Show called, “Cliché” would make it.
Three contestants - after hearing where they are from are shown a cliché on a
screen. The contest would be to write down and then tell the MC and the
audience, what they think is the meaning and history of the cliché.
The best answer wins. The best answer gets points. The
winner gets a trip to Hawaii or Honduras.
So what does, “Close, but no cigar” mean?
My guess was close - but it’s not exactly the correct
answer. I don’t think I’d get the prize. I was close - but no cigar.
LOOKED IT UP
I looked it up on line - on Google - and
found the following answer: “To fall just
short of a successful outcome and get nothing for your efforts.”
I was wondering about its origin and found the following: “The phrase, and its variant 'nice try, but
no cigar', are of US origin and date from the mid-20th century. Fairground
stalls gave out cigars as prizes, and this is the most likely source, although
there's no definitive evidence to prove that.”
It goes on: “It is
first recorded in print in Sayre and Twist's publishing of the script of the
1935 film version of Annie Oakley: ‘Close, Colonel, but no cigar!’”
That caught my eye, because I had been to Annie Oakley’s birth place near North
Star Ohio while preaching in Greensville, Ohio
where she died. She was born Phoebe Ann Moses - but her professional name
became Annie Oakley.
Then surprise, I read the following about Lima,
Ohio where I was stationed for 8 ½ years
before I came here to Annapolis.
“It appears in U. S. newspapers widely
from around 1949 onwards; for example, a story from The Lima News, Lima, Ohio,
November 1949, where The Lima House Cigar and Sporting Goods Store narrowly
avoided being burned down in a fire, was titled 'Close But No Cigar'.”
QUESTION: WHY THIS TOPIC
By now I’m assuming you’re trying to figure out why I just gave that long
“babble” about the phrase, “Close But No Cigar.”
The answer is this. Sometimes when we’re visiting a church,
we look at the art work in the church. We start wondering, “What is that
about?” We are “go figuring!”
This happens to me all the time. I like to visit churches
I’ve never been in before. A group of us are going to London in September and I have 3 churches
lined up already. I like to walk around and study everything - stained glass
windows - columns - gargoyles outside, etc. etc. etc.
Last year we went to Barcelona
and a bunch of people said, “Make sure you see Sagrada Familia” - HolyFamilyChurch. Four of us did.
Fascinating. After walking around and looking at the church inside and out
for about an hour, we spotted a small
museum inside the church. It was off to the side - like a sacristy. Two of us
left. Two of us spent a half hour in the museum. It explained everything - well
lots of things - on what the architect - Antoni Gaudi - had in mind - animals,
trees, geometric shapes based on living cells in nature and on and on and on.
Then we went out again and spent another hour looking at everything again. This
time we were closer to what the artist was telling us.
The second time we were close to understanding what the art work was about, but
Are you still trying to figure out what I’m talking about
and where I’m going.
Well, all that is an analogy to help understand some of the
writings in the Bible - especially books like Daniel and the Book of
It’s especially true when we come to the Book of Ezekiel the
Prophet, which we begin today. Did you hear him talking about the 4 living
creatures with wings. When they moved there was a mighty sound - like that of
waters. Go figure that out.
Did you hear Ezekiel say the following?
the firmament over their heads
something like a throne could be seen,
looking like sapphire.
Upon it was seated, up above,
who had the appearance of a man.
Upward from what resembled his waist
saw what gleamed like electrum;
downward from what resembled his waist
saw what looked like fire;
he was surrounded with splendor.
Like the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day
was the splendor that surrounded him.
Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
What is that all about? When we see the great cathedrals of
Europe - Rome, France,
Spain, England, when we see basilicas here the United States,
we see that artists simply took passages from books in the Bible like Ezekiel
and carved and formed their images into their buildings.
I hope you are now saying, “Oh, now I get it. That’s what
you’re talking about.” But when we do this, we’re getting closer, but close but
no cigar - because who can ever get into the heart and mind of another - and
figure out what they are dreaming about.
However. I’m hoping by this long winding homily, knowing this helps us to at least say, “Oh,
okay, I get a tiny bit of this.”
Almost finished, let me suggest, if you ever get to Dublin, make sure you to TrinityCollege
and see some of the pages of the Book of Kells. You’ll stand there looking at
the pages of an ancient Celtic Bible. You’ll see the drawings on the pages.
People go, “Woo! Interesting. Crawly animals. Many Winged birds. Wow.”
Then they might try to figure out what the images are all
about. Go figure.
I’m trying to remember if I ever saw a stained glass window
with the image in today’s gospel of the fishhook and the coin in the fish’s
mouth. Okay. If I do, I now will say, “Oh that’s where that come from.” I’d be
right - and maybe someone will give me a cigar for a correct answer.
Quote for Today - August 13, 2012 "A committee is a cul-de-sac into which ideas are lured to be quietly strangled." Anonymous Quoted by George F. Will, Washington Post Writers Group, August 16, 1992 Questions Has this quote ever been your experience. Be specific about the issue, where this happened to you. Was it your idea that was strangled or were you the killer? Have you ever had a good experience with a committee? Was the old saying, "Two heads are better than one!" true in that situation - better 6 heads?
The title of my homily for this 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is, “What’s Inside the Box?” Here's a box. [SHOW SMALL WHITE BOX] What's inside it? I'm not going to tell you till the end of my homily. Boo! Bummer!
How many times have we looked at a box and wondered, "What’s
It could be a box the UPS or Fed Ex driver is bringing to the door of a
neighbor. It could be a gift in a wrapped box at Christmas or at our birthday.
It could be a box in a bottom drawer we discovered after the second of our
parents died and we are sorting out their stuff. It could be a box on a chair
next to a stranger across from us at the airport. What’s inside the box?
Who invented boxes - if they could be called an invention?
What have they been made of? What will they look like in the year 5012? Did a
caveman give a gift in some kind of homemade box to his cavewoman?
To be human is to give gifts in boxes. To be human is to
want to surprise another and see their face as they open up a gift. To be human
is store stuff in boxes. To be human is to want strong boxes for special things that we want to keep safe - maybe even calling the box, “Our Keepsake Box” or simply
call it a “Safe”.
To be human is to wonder what’s inside the box? We’re inquisitive.
We’re nosy. We guess. We’re intrigued. The little kid on December 23 - when
nobody is looking - sneaks to gifts under the Christmas Tree and shakes the boxes with his or her name on
them - and maybe even the boxes of others. Maybe even grannies do the same at a nursing home Christmas tree.
What’s inside the box?
WHY A HOMILY ON BOXES?
Yesterday I read today’s readings carefully and thought
about them? I said my regular prayer for an insight that would be interesting
and helpful for all of us.
I checked out what I preached on these readings in the past
- in my computer box that has over 3,000 past homilies. I like to be come up with a new homily. Here
at St. Mary’s Saturday lunch and supper and Sunday lunch we have leftovers -
but on Sunday night we like to go out - date night - and it’s nice to have a
fresh Cobb Salad or ravioli or hamburger or what have you. I can’t cook. I don't like to cook. However, I
like to try to cook up a sermon that has something to digest - even something
to chew on. Nobody likes gristle in their roast beef - and sometimes someone tells me something I said was confusing. That's gristle. We want something to
nourish us. I’m not trying to be self serving here - but I do want to serve up the Word of God as best I can. Come Holy Spirit.
Today’s gospel is one of 5 consecutive Sunday readings from
the Sixth Chapter of John on the Eucharist. I could continue to go
there. The Mass is a meal and Jesus the Lamb of God is our nourishment and our
strength. Today’s first reading from First Kings mentions food as well - food
for the journey. It has the story of Elijah running and escaping King Ahab and
Queen Jezebel. Today he rests under the Broom Tree. Resting under a tree is
a great image - but I preached three variations on that theme the last three times
we had these readings - that is 3, 6, and 9 years ago.
So I decided to take a hard look at today’s second reading
from Ephesians 4: 30 - 5:2 - to shop for a sermon there. The word “sealed” grabbed me - “EspHragiSTHETE”
in Greek. Paul uses the image that all of us are like a document or a sack that is sealed. Those seeing the seal - those reading the seal - know this is the real deal. We have been sealed. Then he talks about what
should be inside the document called “me.” Inside should be the good stuff:
kindness to each other, compassion, forgiveness and love. He says that we
grieve the Holy Spirit if inside of us instead is: bitterness, fury, anger, a
reviling attitude, and evil malice.
That’s a clear contrast there. Paul - Jesus - various writers and prophets in the scriptures - like to give such lists.
As I reflected upon that image of a sealed document, it hit me: use the image of a box. That would be understood today more than those sealed with wax documents that are in some movies about earlier times. We buy boxes of this and packages of that in the supermarket or drugstore and we check that they are sealed - not tampered with.
So that’s the genesis of this homily entitled, “What’s
Inside the Box?”
What’s inside me? What’s inside you? It’s show time. It’s
show and tell time.
If I sat down and wrote a letter or a document that described me. “Dear
Everybody: this is me. This is my autobiography. This is where I came
from. This is how I got here. These are my moments. These are my discoveries.
These are my ingredients. This is what makes me tick. These are my dreams. These are my disasters. These are my learnings. This is what I hope my legacy will be.” Then as I
looked at it, as I reread it, do I see the Spirit of God sealing it? Or as Paul
begins today’s second reading from his Letter to the Ephesians. would it grieve the Spirit to read our life? Or the
contrast as he ends today’s second reading, would the finished copy of our life
sitting there on our kitchen table - would it have a fragrant aroma. Isn’t that
a nice image? Have you ever opened up the Sunday papers or a magazine and you
smell a sweet aroma and you say, “What’s that? Where’s that coming from?” Surprise it’s one of those scratch off
perfume ads stuck in the adds or in a magazine.
Surprise! Wouldn’t it be great if people who know and love
us tell others behind our back their take on us: “What a gift! What a sweet
Wouldn’t it be horrible if people who know us and read our
lives describe us in these two words: “He stinks!”
POETRY AND SONGS: WHAT’S IN THE BOX
There are various songs and poems that use the image of the
box - to describe a person.
We marry each other, because we think the other is a gift.
We stay married to each other, when we discover the gift
keeps on getting better with the years. We discover the other is not the wrapping or the box, but the gift inside.
We grow when the other grows. They grow when we grow. The
marriage is working. The family is working. Those who know us think and
sometimes say, “What a great family!”
What a great company! What a great neighborhood! What a great parish!
We hate it when we discover that the gift wasn’t what we expected - worse, that
the gift keeps on getting worse. Bummer. Ugly.
What’s in the box?
BACK TO TODAY’S SECOND READING FROM EPHESIANS
Paul placed two boxes in front of us today.
One smells sweet. One stinks. Which is me?
One is filled with bitterness, fury, anger, shouting,
reviling and malice.
The other is filled with kindness to each other, compassion, forgiving one
another, and living in love - as Christ loved us - that is, making sacrifices
to God and each other with love.
Clear choices. Clear menu. We know both.
Not so clear is the story of Elijah in today’s first reading. Ahab’s soldiers are tracking him down. He
sits under the broom tree in the desert - finds there a bread like substance
and a jug of water. He eats, drinks, rests and is restored. He gets up and gets moving
again - nourished - but what the future holds is not clear cut.
In today’s gospel the crowd is murmuring against Jesus because he said, “I am
the bread that came down from heaven.” They can’t see him as more than Jesus -
whose parents are Mary and Joseph.”
They box him out or box him in - and can’t see him as the
gift he is.
They can’t hear his words that he is the gift from God the Father to our world
- the gift of eternal life - the bread of life - that has come down from heaven
- that those who eat this bread will live forever - that this bread is the
flesh of Jesus for the life of the world.
At the end of John 6 - we’ll hear this two Sundays from
now - many rejected this gift of Jesus and walked away. They really hadn’t
opened up the box, the gift that Jesus is - and savored his sweetness - and let
his aroma fill their lives.
We’re here Jesus. We’re here to taste and eat how good you
are. Amen. We're here to become better gifts to be opened up for each other. Amen. [SHOW SMALL WHITE BOX] Now what's in this box? Answer: nothing. Boo! Bummer. The gift that was in it is somewhere else. Is there a possible message here? It's very difficult to put this into words or pull this off. On Easter Sunday morning they went to the sealed cave to anoint Jesus. The grave, the cave, was empty. The box was empty. Jesus had risen from the cave, grave, earth, his before, to a new phenomenn - to become the Risen Lord and his presence fills not just the earth - but the Universe - the All - the Pleroma - as Paul called it. And that presence surrounds us right here - right now - once we accept - meet - and move into communion with Christ - over and over again - in the Bread, in our neighbor - especially the poor, the sick, the hungry, the jailed, the hurting - and in the Depths and Center of the Trinity. Amen.
Quote for Today - August 12, 2012 "Then one day it stops. Other people keep going. Somewhere on the board, somebody is just getting started. But for you, the game is over. Did you play wisely? We all want God, Anne Lamott writes, but left to our own devices, we seek all the worldly things - possessions, money, looks, and power - because we think they will bring us fulfillment. 'But this turns out to be a joke, because they are just props, and when we check out of this life, we have to give them all back to the great prop master in the sky. They're just on loan. They're not ours.' They all go back in the box." John Ortberg, When The Game Is Over It All Goes Back In the Box, page 16, 2007. I'd recommend this book by John Ortberg. He begins with the image of playing Monopoly with his grandmother - and all she taught him. On the cover of the book is the wooden letter holder from the game called Scrabble. Check it out. What's in your box? What games are you playing? Are you winning? Losing? How much longer will the game go on? What have you learned in the moves? I bought this book in a bookstore in Ireland and remembered it when I was working on my sermon for this Sunday: "What's Inside The Box?"