Proper 13, Year C (Part I, at least)
I'm sorry to say that this post is my calling in sick. Before I head back to bed, though, I wanted at least to give the theme I think I'd preach on if I were preaching this week, in hope that doing that much would prove useful to some.
This week's gospel is an interesting one. A man comes to Jesus with a perfectly reasonable request. It's customary in Jesus' culture to divide inheritance between brothers, so one might think that Jesus would do what he was asked and tell the other guy to do what's right. Furthermore, from the viewpoint of Luke's community, Jesus IS God's appointed judge, so what's with Jesus' question, "Who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?"
It's something worth reflection.
If Jesus, who has authority from God to judge, refuses to condemn the greedy brother, then where do we get off condemning others? What makes us think we can do so with Jesus' authority or in his name? Luke makes clear enough that he doesn't subscribe to the motto (famous in the 1980s in particular) of "greed is good," and yet he also makes clear that Jesus' way privileges reconciliation over merely being right. And that's a very liberating way to live. When we're dead set on accumulation, whether it's some kind of moral points we think we're gathering or wealth to shield us from misfortune and suffering, we end up trapped in anxiety. Behind insisting that we're right, others are wrong, and God will vindicate those who are truly good, there's usually an anxiety that others are getting ahead of us. Behind our efforts to accumulate enough to handle any illness or disaster that comes our way, to live in a "good neighborhood" where bad things supposedly don't happen, and to experience enough luxury to distract us from insecurity and fear, there's usually an awareness that we're kidding ourselves, that life involves vulnerability.
So why not leave the condemnation of the wicked to Jesus? I wouldn't advise holding your breath until you see that happen -- but really, vindication of righteousness and punishing unrighteousness is a pretty huge thing to worry about, and do any of us really need a huge worry on our proverbial plates? And instead of cataloguing potential disasters and calculating how much we need to shield ourselves from them, why not bring our fears to God and treat the world as an arena in which we can participate in God's compassion? Accepting vulnerability just might be a first step toward deeper experience of the preciousness of life in this world and the abundance of God's blessings in it.
August 3, 2007 | Permalink
Not preaching at the Eucharist this week, so this is just a "get well soon" message, plus hug and wave xx
Posted by: Kathryn | Aug 3, 2007 6:22:49 PM
Dylan, your illness has not taken the edge off your brain. So celebrate (and get well)! You're still an inspiration.
Posted by: David | Aug 3, 2007 6:25:09 PM
Sorry to hear you are sick. Get well prayers from this side of the pond.
Posted by: Sheryl | Aug 3, 2007 6:29:24 PM
I pray this week finds you in better health and filled with Gods presence. XX
This whole issue about jesus being 'given' the authoritiy to judge is HUGE. As I see it Jesus is saying two things - I didn't get to be a judge the ways you guys did; I didn't steal it in the garden. And, I don't judge the way you judge; and just so you know, you're doing it very badly * see the story of the unjust judge in Luke.
Posted by: Daniel | Aug 4, 2007 9:29:05 AM
Once I finish the sermon that goes with this text, I should be another preacher that has cited you in the sermon. But mine's not likely to go online so you wouldn't know if I didn't tell you. thank you for your thoughtfulness with the texts you address
Posted by: Sarah | Aug 5, 2007 1:42:45 AM