Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on the second and Gospel readings.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time | September 10, 2017
I must admit, when I heard the second reading for this morning, I couldn’t help but revert back to my childhood.
For I remembered sitting in Mass when our pastor would repeat this same message again and again.
Love one another, as God loves you.
It seemed so straightforward at the time. For I was blessed with a life in which I was surrounded by people who loved me and never hesitated to share that love.
It was easy to love parents who tucked me into bed every night with a gentle kiss on the forehead and a whispered I love you.
It was easy to love to brothers who got into fights on your behalf, sticking up for their nerdy older brother.
It was easy to love teachers who believed in me, friends who stood by me, neighbors who always had a cup of cold lemonade and snack ready after a long day playing in the backyard.
I didn’t yet understand that loves comes with a cost.
I didn’t yet understand that this commission to love did not come with an exception clause.
I didn’t yet understand that loving another concrete person was infinitely more difficult than loving a whole bunch of people in the abstract.
But today, a decade into this journey as an Oblate, I feel like I have a glimpse into just how difficult this commission is.
And yet, I have never been more convinced of the fact that this commission is what defines us as a Christian people.
For I look around at a world who no longer hears this great commission.
A world marred in violence and war.
A world in which we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
A world filled with seductive lies that distort this command that always seemed so straightforward.
Lies that attempt to convince us that someone’s actions can excuse us from this obligation to love them.
The crime they commit.
The person they choose to marry.
The hurt they have done to us.
The person they chose to vote for.
Lies that say that we can love from a distance. That we don’t actually have to get involved in their lives, with all of the messiness.
Messiness that shatters our black and white world.
Jumbling our certitude about the world and how it works.
Lies that convince us that there are more important obligations than love. That truth or faith or justice could somehow be pitted against love. That God could somehow become a cover for our hatred and our prejudice, our anger and our arrogance.
These are lies my friends. Seductive ones it’s true. But lies nonetheless. And if we, as individuals and as a nation, continue to harbor them, we will surely die at the hand of our own sword.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of bearing the cost of our collective lies.
Of trying to explain to a student why they are not welcome here. As if they had committed some great crime for being born on the other side of an arbitrary line.
Of trying to explain to a student why another child chose to murder their cousin. To bathe another street corner in our city with the blood of a child of God.
I am tired. I am wounded. But I stand here today to tell you that I refuse to surrender to these lies.
For I still believe in the promise of the Gospel. That where 2 or 3 are gathered in his name. Gathered in the love that is at the heart of our Trinitarian God.
Then God is present with us.
Weeping when we weep.
Catching us as we stumble
Embracing us with all our broken pieces and making us whole.
Loving us . . . as we are.
Rich and Poor
Young and Old
Black and White
Gay and Straight
Native-Born and Immigrant
Believer and Atheist
And then sending us forth to do the same.
Love one another, my friends. As your God loves you.
May God be Praised