A Homily for the Third Sunday after Trinity
15 June 2013
Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Pewaukee, WI
Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian
THEN drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. (Luke 15:1,2)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
In both parables this morning, something is lost. And in both parables, the one who values the lost, either sheep or coin, goes looking for it. But the core of the gospel this morning is not the parables, but rather the reason why Jesus tells the parables. Tax collectors and the other “sinners” are gathering around Jesus, ready to hear what he has to say. The Scribes and the Pharisees, always antagonizing Jesus, say to each other, “This man receives sinners and eats with them!”
Jesus eats and associates with those who do not follow the Law and those who collect taxes for the hated Romans. The Pharisees viewed both of these groups as lost, and rightly so. But the Pharisees are just as lost. The Scribes are just as lost as those who have sided with the Romans. Truthfully, all are lost, because as St. Paul says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Into this mix comes Jesus Christ. This is the one, who, on a larger level, is God incarnate, God come down to earth to dwell among us and with us, taking on our nature. On the individual level, and the level that the scribes and pharisees operated on, this was one who ate with Roman collaborators, who talked with the Samaritan woman at the well, who healed on the sabbath, who pronounced the forgiveness of sins, who preached in the Synagogue that Isaiah 61 had been fulfilled in the presence of those listening.
And in response to their accusation, Jesus tells two parables. He tells of the shepherd which goes after the sheep, and the woman who searches for the lost coin. The sheep is lost because it did not hear or did not obey the shepherd. The coin is probably lost because it was tossed or dropped. Christ, the one who said, “I am the Good Shepherd,” is the one who comes after the lost sheep. The woman searching for the coin represents us, searching after God, searching for that which we have lost through our inclination to sin… through our choosing to sin.
When a sheep is lost, though, like the pharisees, the Scribes, the Tax Collectors, the sinners…like you and I… it can be difficult to reorient. St. Peter warns, “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith.”
But it is so easy to be distracted. It is so easy to set our eyes on something other than God. How often have we turned them not towards God but towards something that we want? Rather than saying our prayers, we watch that game or catch up on our favorite television show. Or, speaking from my own experience, sleep. Or, buying into the modern heresy of progress, we try to haul ourselves up by our own bootstraps and focus on what we can accomplish, what we can do, and in doing so, we lose sight of God. How often have we turned them against God, looking at someone we don’t like and considering them less than fully human, not seeing the image of God in them? I have walked through the streets of New York, Atlanta, even Racine, and seen the homeless and starving… True, some of them want to be there, and do not want help, but a society which is able to encourage new three hundred dollar cell phones every year, and thirty thousand dollar weddings should should encourage us to see the image of God in each other. But we see shiny things and we gravitate towards them.
Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross so we could have nice things. Nice vestments, pretty buildings, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Missal, the 1940 Hymnal, coffee hour; these are not the gospel. These are not the truth, nor are they the reason that Jesus gave himself for us.
Christianity is not about feeling good about oneself. It is not about finding inner peace, nor about being nice to one another. Those are all good things, and I think Jesus likes them, but not at the expense of the real reason why Christ came among us.
The Good Shepherd came to find us, lost as we were in this world, and to raise us up that we might find him. But in order to find him, we actually have to look for him. In order to find Jesus, we have to not allow ourselves to be distracted.
You cannot be a Sunday Morning Christian. We cannot say the words of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” and not long for the establishment of the Kingdom; We cannot say, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” if we do not forgive our neighbor; We cannot say, “deliver us from Evil,” and ask God to “incline our hearts to keep this law” if we do not intend conversion of life.
When you receive Jesus this morning in the Sacrament, unite yourself to Him. Let yourself resolve to be salt and light… let us, the Church, resolve to be the Sacrament of the Kingdom. May the light of Christ so fill us and transform us that we may not reveal ourselves, but be icons of Christ. May this parish be a window from this world into the Kingdom.
Let us Pray.
O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.