18th Sunday in Ordinary Time | August 4, 2019
This past weekend, I was up in New York City with my family celebrating the wedding of one of my brother’s childhood friends.
There was something magical about the weekend.
Looking out the window of the reception hall and seeing the Statue of Liberty illuminated against the night sky.
Dancing in a giant circle, with your brothers, sister-in-law and parents right beside you.
Watching the groom dance with his bride to a song his father wrote and recorded before passing away.
Time seemed to slip away as we all basked in the beauty of the present moment.
But then my brother noticed the flagpole at half mast and asked why.
I had no idea, so I grabbed my phone and was quickly returned to reality.
Two more mass shootings ripping through the national landscape. Marking another town, another city with a permanent scar.
The dichotomy of that moment could not have been more startling to me.
Death and Carnage on the one hand, even as I stood in the midst of laughter, music and love.
My head was reeling and my heart spinning as I travelled home that night. And suddenly I found myself hearing these readings for this weekend in a whole new light.
For I was suddenly struck by how blunt the Scriptures were being on how fragile our lives are.
In a moment, everything can change.
In a moment, our lives can end.
Not exactly the easiest of messages to hear, to be frank. Which is probably why most of us respond to this difficult truth with one of two problematic responses.
Some of us go with denial.
Acting as if our lives will never end.
As if we can defy death by medical procedures, security systems, and sturdy walls.
As if the time we possess is a limitless commodity that should be squandered on the things of this world that cannot journey with us.
On salaries and investment portfolios
On promotions and social media
On bigger homes, flashier cars, the newest tech
Like our friend in the Gospel, we pour our lives out on building barns that we will never see used. Truly vanity of vanities.
Others, on the other hand, give into a paralyzing apathy.
What does it matter?
Nothing seems to change.
We wring our hands. And utter meaningless platitudes. And simply wait for the next shooting. As if it is inevitable.
And yet, our Scriptures today reject either of these paths.
For they see another way in the person of Christ himself.
For when faced with the truth of his own mortality, Jesus rejected both denial and despair.
Instead, he embraced the call to live fully in the present moment, pouring himself out in love for the sake of the kingdom that was always here and yet not fully.
And as Christians, he invites us to do the same.
To take this moment that we possess. This sacred beautiful moment. And use it as a moment in which we unite ourselves to Christ’s call to build the kingdom.
A moment in which we forgive and reconcile.
A moment in which we are generous and kind.
A moment in which we fight for justice and stand with the oppressed.
A moment in which grieve and comfort those who mourn
A moment in which we speak truth
A moment in which we pour forth our own love into the world.
This is our moment my friends.
May we live it fully.
May God be Praised.