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Homily – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Scary, ain’t it?

October 12, 2008

Are you scared?  Seen the news lately?

These days, if you’re watching the stock market ticker, it can make you a little crazy.  The Dow dropped, what was it, almost 1,600 points last week?  And there’s a steady drumbeat (has been for several weeks now) about potential financial ruin facing everyone in the United States if the government fails to act, and to act quickly!  Or is it that everyone is going to lose their homes?  Or that everyone’s retirement savings are going to evaporate in a puff of smoke?

It’s a common theme on TV, on talk radio, in campaign ads and YouTube videos that this candidate or that one is going to “save America”, or that one is “too erratic” or “too risky”.  And I have been told more times than I care to think about how this one or that one is going to “take care” of me and my family.

But there’s an underlying question we have to answer, brothers and sisters:  What are we afraid of?  What, exactly, is it that is keeping us awake, or occupying our minds? What is it we are trying so hard to “protect”, or to “rescue”?

And who’s really going to take care of us?

The reading from Isaiah this morning speaks in beautiful images about the banquet of the Lord, and about all the great things that will flow from the establishment of God’s kingdom.  But what did Isaiah talk about just before this?  Devastation.  Ruin.  ApocalypseFear! Of whom?  Of what?  Judah in Isaiah’s time was afraid of being conquered.  The Kingdom of Israel to the north had been taken over by the Assyrians.  Enemies threatened all around, and the kings of Judah were tempted again and again to make alliances with pagans, and to turn away from trust in God.  Sound kind of familiar?

Jesus told a story in today’s Gospel about people who’d lost sight of what was important.  He compared the kingdom of heaven to a king giving a wedding feast; he sent out invitations twice.  His invitations were turned down the first time, and even after he laid the whole party out for the invitees, folks went about their own affairs.  Some of them even went as far as to shut his servants up by killing them.  And the king decided that was enough!  He did away with the first group, and invited others to attend the feast!

But what are they talking about?  Are these predictions of the end of the world?  The Church would tell you, “No.”

What is it, then?  It’s a description of what can happen when we turn away from God, and start to trust only in our own wisdom! Isaiah and Jesus both are talking about what happens when God’s people turn away from Him, and what awaits those who remain faithful to him!

Paul knew this.  And Paul says something in the second reading that is profoundly important for us to hear in this current set of circumstances:  “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”  All things.  Paul says that he has “learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.”  And because of that, nothing can throw him!

But where did he learn these secrets?  Where did Paul go to figure out how to be comfortable whatever his circumstances?  To God.  Paul turned to Christ.  Paul learned to trust, that whatever needs he had, God would supply them. And he learned to count on the communities of believers, who, like the Philippians, provided his support.

So how do we weather this current situation we’re in?  Through Christ. Because we can do all things in Him who strengthens us.  How do we decide how to vote, and who to support politically?  We stay faithful to what we have learned from Christ!  And we keep going!

But what about our 401(k) funds?  What about our investments that are worth 20% less today than they were on Monday?  What about the credit I can’t get for my business to help me make payroll this week?  What about the bailout package that is helping all those rich guys on Wall Street, but ain’t doin’ SQUAT for me and my family?

Well, here’s the rub.  Playing the “Blame game” right now misses the entire point God could be making with us!  And if we’re looking for someone in government to swoop in and save us…well, maybe they will.  But the question is…What is that going to cost us?

Isaiah told the kings of Judah time and again that they should look to God…and time and again, they ignored him.  They made deals with the pagans in order to survive, and it didn’t work.  In Jesus’ parable, the king’s subjects were invited to the feast…and they were too busy.  And when they got tired of hearing the king’s invitation, they abused and killed the king’s messengers!

What’s it gonna be for us?  Do we ignore God and try to figure this out on our own this time?  Do we listen to these talking heads and their promises to save us?  Or do we listento God?  I’m not sure what we can do on our own.  But Paul promises that we can do all things in Christ, who strengthens us!

What are we afraid of?  More wars? No healthcare when we get old?  What are we afraid of?  The government “invading our privacy”?  Not being able to go get things “taken care of” if we make a “mistake”?  Losing our house and all of our “stuff” because we can’t pay our bills?  Or are we more afraid of what will happen if we cut ourselves loose from God?

No man, no woman, can “save” us.  No “rescue package” is going to magically make everything all better.  And no matter what happens this election cycle, everyone who takes office at the local, state, and federal level will still just be a human person, doing a job.

The news would have us think that the world is falling apart, and that the only route to salvation is through things that we humans do, before it’s too late.

But God has a different prescription.

God calls us to be faithful citizens.  God calls us to a culture of life.

And God calls us to be fearless.

We can do all things in Christ, who strengthens us.  And that includes getting through this current turmoil.

So, who are we gonna believe, and believe in?  What are we afraid of?

And who can fix it?

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From → Homilies

One Comment
  1. Shirley permalink

    Dear Deacon Chip,
    Stay strong,stay real. Your message is powerful & true. As we focus on the faithful word of God written in our hearts, discipline our human minds & wills, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who lives,within each true believer we become one in the body of Christ, & can spread the message of what it means to be saved,to even our next door neighbors.I do believe in this day & tme Our Lord & savior has no hand & feet but ours Keep me in your prayers that I will continue to be a light for Christ in this dark world:even as I do the same for you.
    PEACE & BLESSINGS

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