Sunday, July 7, 2019

Your Name is Written - Homily for the 14th Sunday in OT (C)


One of the great blessings we have seen here at Saint Theodore is the new springtime of new families with new babies. Each week, I see in the back pews a mom or a dad with their little one, mom or dad holding them, taking caring of them, loving them. It has given me a spiritual reflection; for, as I see them take care of their little one, one who is so totally dependent and vulnerable, I see the Father taking care of me. Indeed, for that little one’s name is written on her parents’ hearts. So, too, our names are written on God our Father’s heart. He loves us.

This is the opening theme of our reading today. God says to us: do you see how much that mother loves her child? I love you even more than that. Therefore, “Rejoice, Jerusalem,” rejoice—know that you are cared for.

***

But, Father—I know some of you may be thinking—Father, that sounds all nice and good. But I don’t think God really cares for me. I don’t feel His love. Things feel pretty empty right now and I’m struggling and I’m suffering.

Yes, I know. In such times, it feels as though God is not a loving Father. This is part of the paradox in the Gospel today. We hear that God loves us, but then Jesus sends His seventy-two disciples out into the world—with nothing. No money, no extra clothes, nothing. And it would seem that Jesus is not caring for them. (The disciples could have said: Jesus, aren’t you going to help us? Aren’t you going to provide us with things that will help us? We are totally… vulnerable…)

But what happens in the end? They come back rejoicing. Rejoicing because God showed up. He really did take care of them.

Of course, we don’t know how long they were vulnerable—how long it took them to get that first meal or that first night of shelter. They may have been cold and hungry for a while—and wondering: “What has Jesus done, sending us out here like this? I’m hungry….”

But then the food came. And the shelter. And even the power to pray and to heal.

***

The obvious challenge is to trust God, therefore. But, I think God is calling us in a different direction today.

When I was in high school, I heard of a religious order that did something amazing. When a man would enter their order, there would come a point where that man would be sent hundreds of miles away and with twenty dollars—and the mission: “you have one month. Come back home after a month.”

The man only had $20. For one month.

During that time, I heard stories of what the men went through during that time. The vulnerability, the trust, the surprises in others’ generosity. And the discovery that some people believe that God loves them—and some people doubt that God is a Father who loves them.

That month would turn the man into a more grateful soul. And, because of his gratefulness, he would be more generous—and especially to those who doubted the Father’s love. It was as though the man would say, “You doubt the Father’s generosity? Let me show you.”

After all, the man had been in such a state. He, having been sent out with only $20, likely asked with his first footsteps: “Is God going to take care of me? Does God… love me?”

***

I think the first step towards trust and to generosity—and to helping others experience the Father’s love—is to first take a moment and reflect on how God has blessed us.

This week, I was driving through a part of town where there was a coin laundry on the street corner.

I had totally forgotten about coin laundries.

But I remember them. I remember, when I was younger and our dryer went out, having to load up the laundry in the car, then riding in the car with mom, then finding quarters for the machines, then folding the laundry there. And I even remember it raining once and having to load up the laundry into the car in the rain.

I begged God to fix our dryer.

Years later, woefully forgetful of those days, I enjoy a dryer. But when have I ever thanked God for the dryer?

Maybe I’m awash (sorry, puns!)—maybe, I’m awash in God’s love and I’m just simply not aware.

***

That’s the challenge for this week. What are the things you have been taking for granted? It may be something simple like being able to walk. Maybe it’s a child you had hoped would come years ago. But what do you take for granted? That "daily bread" that God gives you each day...

Take a moment and thank God. Let His love enter your mind and heart.

And then hear the words of the Gospel:

do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.

In other words: do not rejoice simply because of the stuff you have. Rejoice because your name is written on the Father’s heart.

You are that little one in His arms. And He is caring for you. He loves you. Your name is on His heart. In heaven. Forever.

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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