9th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 14
The Reverend Meg Lovejoy
About five weeks ago, my horse, Beu, pulled a shoe off his front hoof. In the process of losing the shoe, he managed to step on one of the nails that held it to his hoof. When I fed the horses that evening, he was the last to get to the barn and I noticed he was limping as he slowly walked. I cleaned the hoof and looked to see what the problem was, but found nothing. I kept him in the barn overnight, and the next day, we were off to the veterinarian to get him checked out. The doctor couldn’t find anything and thought he just needed to get another shoe on that hoof. When I was finally able to get a farrier to come to put on a new shoe, he noticed a small hole in the sole of Beu’s hoof. For 10 days, we soaked his hoof in hot water with Epsom salts then wrapped the hoof with a poltice to draw out the infection. We were then able to discontinue the hoof wraps, but continued to keep him in the barn and soak his hoof at least once a day. Finally, a few days ago, I noticed a crack about an inch long at the top of his hoof, just below the hair line. Finally! The infection had tracked its way up, through the hoof and ruptured just below the hair line. The healing could begin! Beu stopped limping a couple of days ago. While his healing is not yet complete, the progress can be seen. All the effort, all the sweat, all the TLC has paid off.
As I wrote this homily, I received news from a former Iona School classmate of mine that ICE raids were taking place in Austin. With the horrors that have occurred in El Paso, Dayton, the Mississippi chicken processing plants, and the daily murders and assaults that take place in our cities and around the world, it could be so easy to lose faith. It could be simple to say, “How could God allow these things to happen if He truly loved us? There is no God.” Paul tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) God is with us through all the trials we face in life. We can see God in the face of the husband who stepped in front of his wife as the gunman was shooting at her. We can see God in the face of those who came to the aid of the injured and dying. We can see God in the face of the workers who were snatched up by ICE agents while working to provide for their families and hear God in the cry of fear from the children whose parents were unable to pick them up after school or meet them when they arrived home. We have faith that God is here and with us and we cling to that faith, especially when we are in trouble or in need.
Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid, little flock, because God is good and will give us his kingdom”. (Lk 12:32) But what can we tell the child whose parents aren’t there to pick her up from school? What do we tell the widow as she buries her husband, or the mother who has lost her children to street violence? The words just don’t seem to be enough. Telling a poor person that God loves them isn’t enough. When the telling is combined with action, then it becomes real and truthful.
That’s where our action can step in. That’s where our prayers step in. That’s where we give of our time and our talents to assist those in need. If we have more treasures than we need, we give alms, we share. If we see someone having a hard time, we can offer assistance and encouraging words. We can be the face of God, the hands of God, the voice of God. The people who are committing these horrible murders have an infection in them. That infection is crippling them. We can provide the poltice and the medicine to help clear that infection. It takes time; it takes effort and sweat, but the reward is great.
No matter what your views are regarding immigration in our country, there is a better way to handle the situation. A way of love. A way of hope. A way of providing a cure for the disease of such poverty and fear that forces people to leave their homelands in search for a better life. We just cannot continue to be silent and without action when we have faith to share and it is so desperately needed!
We must be ready, as Jesus tells us, because we have no idea when our time will come. Our Christian morals do not allow us to sit in inaction so we prepare. How each of us prepare is as different as we are different. There is no one size fits all. But prepare is an action verb, so pray about the action you need to take and then take it. Doing nothing is not an option. Procrastination is not an option.
When injustice, hate, and greed cause fear, death, and sorrow, we are called to action. These are God’s children, just as you and I are God’s children. Even those committing mass murders are God’s children. Maybe if someone had been able to reach out to them, healing could have begun rather than the disease and infection that occurred and finally exploded in anger and murder. We can remember the Christian morals and virtues we’ve been taught. We can live with integrity and reach out to those who don’t know these morals and virtues, teaching them a new way, a way of love and hope. We can show love to those who need it, even those whom we despise or fear.
Isaiah tells us to: Wash ourselves; make ourselves clean; remove the evil from our doings; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan (the child whose parents are locked up for entering the country illegally), plead for the widow (whose husband took the bullet that was meant for her). Although our sins are great, they will be washed clean. As we live into our Christian morals and virtues, we shall see the kingdom. (Isa 1:16-19)
Jesus told the story of the master returning to his home to find his servants alert prepared for his return. That master fastens his belt, has the servants sit down to eat, and then serves them. God has given us the gift of the Kingdom and will “come and serve” the servants. We, the servants, are called to live securely in God’s grace. We are to be alert and ready to receive the fullness of that Kingdom. We are to be ready to share the fullness of that Kingdom.
May we always to be ready to welcome God into the middle of our lives. May we always take action when there is injustice, greed, and hatred. May we always be the alert servant and ready to open the door and help others open their doors to God.