(Originally posted in January of 2016)
Ok, I wasn’t actually physically on fire, but my soul is a blaze with what came to me through the scriptures for The 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. These 1315 words are the heat from that flame.
First, let’s talk about Ezra. This guy was a scribe and priest for the newly re-established Jewish nation after the Israelites had been in slavery to the Babylonian empire for nearly 100 years. At this time in history the Jewish culture had been pretty much eliminated by Babylonian customs over the generations. When the Jews returned home they had to relearn what it meant to worship their God, what it meant to be Jewish. So, Ezra literally stood on his soap box and proclaimed God’s laws to the Hebrew nation from dawn until late afternoon. After he finished, Ezra proclaimed that a feast was on and that day was Holy in God’s eye’s because the Jewish people had returned to Him and relearned the Torah. Can you imagine learning all about your heritage in 9 hours by listening to some man stand there telling you the history, customs, and laws of your people? Isn’t that just WILD!? That’s why Ezra is a Saint!
And then there is Jesus… that Jesus fella and his no B.S. truth telling. In Luke’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus returns to his home synagog and is called upon to read from the scriptures. The attendant hands him the scroll from the great prophet Isaiah and Jesus seeks out this passage:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
After proclaiming this word, he gives the scroll back to the attendant and sits down in the assembly. Everyone in the house is staring him down. So WWJD? He basically drops the mic on the place. Jesus’s words, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” is basically telling the assembly, “Yeah, I’m that guy Isaiah was talking about. Those words I read to you are my mission statement.” BOOM!!!
So there too lies our mission statement. As our pastor put it, it is a great examination of conscience. I believe that if we are to truly be Christ to the world, then we must constantly ask ourselves, “How does what I am doing right now help the poor??”
I don’t mean those who are financially poor, but those who are all types of poor. Spiritually, emotionally, economically, physically etc. are all forms in which poverty can be found among every day people. So as we ask ourselves that question, our answers should be just as clear as when Jesus called it out in the synagog 2000 years ago. But that’s what feeds into my FAVORITE part of these readings.
The real meat for this weekend lies in the second reading, in my opinion.
This reading, which you can read for yourself HERE and scroll down to reading 2, is one of my personally favorite excerpts because it talks about our importance to each other. Yes, how YOU, the person reading THIS, is crucially important to ME and vice versa! Let me explain.
Paul uses the human body as an expression of our relationship to one another. Paul uses this analogous writing to inspire the Body of Christ (or those of us who are Christian). Whether you are a Christian or not makes no difference. I think this transcends religious boundaries. We as a HUMAN family are essentially one body. Paul describes how each part of your individual body; from your eyes to your feet and everything in between, are an integral part of what makes you who you are. Each part of your body plays an important role in your daily lives. What Paul tries explain is that just as your arm needs your leg, you need that person standing next to you.
This is all driving to one section that echo in my heart from Paul’s letter:
But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.
We all come to this life with varying capabilities and varying skills, but every single person has a unique purpose which creates a specific need in the world that only YOU can fill. This makes all of us dependent on, well… all of us. This is the reason your heart hurts when you see in the news some tragedy. When someone in your city is hurt, killed or treated unjustly, you feel a certain twinge of anger, fear, frustration, or a call to action and a need to voice your outrage! That is because we are all connected. Our feelers are pretty limited to what is immediately surrounding us, but thanks to the amazingness of technology, our perception extends far beyond our neighborhood, I.E. the Facebook Newsfeed.
Because you and I share in this experience of life together, we have a concern for each other. When you are sad, it makes me feel sad, when you’re on top of the world, I am there with you. This empathy we share is what makes our relationships strong and our daily lives a worth while experience. When you feel the pain of losing a job I along with everyone else feels that pain in our own way along side of you, and we are all a little bit effected. When the joy of accomplishing something is palpable in your expressions, those around you feel uplifted too. Just so long as you don’t get arrogant about it!
Why does this mean so much? Because each day we venture out into the world to our jobs, to our schools, to wherever life takes us; we experience an unparalleled amount of emotion throughout the day. We then have to decide how to deal with each of those emotional events and this fatigues our brains. When we click on the little blue link on the right side of the screen, when we scroll down the news feed, and when we hit that little magnifier glass icon in Instagram, we are overwhelmed with the amount of choice put before us. We hit ‘like’ or double tap the things we appreciate and filter the rest out.
So when you are scrolling by and you see someone expressing anguish, console them! Don’t just wave their pain off and think it doesn’t somehow affect you. When you scroll by and see someone encouraging someone else, ENCOURAGE THAT PERSON! This is simply because, as Paul states, “if one part is honored, all parts share its joy.” and we have a human responsibility to create more joy, to embrace those joyful moments so that when the tragedies strike we can decide to deal with them in a loving way.
People, there are 7 billion of us humans on planet Earth, can you even comprehend that number? I cant! But each one of our 6,999,999,999 brothers and sisters out there somewhere feel what you feel. We are one, and that is why my heart breaks for those folks with the cardboard signs on the exit ramps. That is why I smile at pictures of your kids on Facebook and Instagram, that is mainly why I share my journey with you every day. We all hope to feel what others feel, so let’s make sure we do just that and make our short lives as part of the HUMAN body one of joy.
Just my thoughts on this happy Sunday,