This essay is for the upcoming Sunday, June 17. Feel free to borrow all or some, with just an attribution.1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a
and Psalm 5:1-8
, Galatians 2:15-21
, Luke 7:36-8:3Sometimes More is More; Sometimes Less is More
Not that I HAVE to keep you on your toes during a homily, especially since everyone is sittting
..... but I'd like to ask you a few questions and let's see what comes up.
We can use a show of hands for this interactive part. OK, here goes: Have you ever known people who, for some inexplicable reason, more out of the ordinary things happen to again and again?.... you know, more than the average, with a few very odd things thrown in the mix? Have the majority of people that you have known had only a smattering of 'unusual' things (that You know of, of course) happen to them?
Next question: in your lifetime, what kind of people have offered you the most acts of kindness and generousity
of all kinds: those who have lots of money and contacts? Those who are on a medium to lower income range?
Next question: Of the people you consider comedians (famous or not) do the majority come from well-to-do, families? Do they come from families with problems or have had to overcome great obstacles?
Next questions: Of those people you know as actors (famous or not) have the majority come from well-to-do families? Have they come from disadvantaged or split families or have had to overcome great obstacles?
Last question (and this is a tough one): Of those people you know who have been ordained (famous or not), have the majority come from middle to middle upper class families? Have they come from low, abusive or disadvantaged families?
These are all subjective questions; I cannot quote to you statistics about who came from where and the percentages of each. It is telling, however, that the majority of people think that the people who have been more generous to you, stuck by you, are funnier, are better actors have had to deal with shortages.... and still made a place for you or gave you something.
It is also interesting that the perception is that the people who become ordained have come from more priviledge
, who 'had' more.
Perception is an amazing thing. Clergy may not necessarily come from the upper crust, yet the pedastle
principle is alive, despite a scandal or indescretion
here or there.
Look at the first reading. Ahab had plenty... he was king. Because he was pouting that he couldn't strike a deal with a local landowner to make a nearby vineyard his own private veggie garden, Jezebel goes behind his back, sets up Naboth
by making certain that two lying traitors would slander Naboth
in front of the local leaders, ending in Naboth's
being stoned to death. To add insult to injury, as soon as Ahab found out Naboth
was dead, he headed straight away down to the vineyard to claim it. The prophet Elijah is sent by God to call him on it. When is enough enough? Is a vegetable garden worth the life of an honest man?
Psalm 5 emphasizes God's longing for his people to be honest and free of deceit
The letter to the Galatians gives us even more. If we have faith in Jesus Christ, we have and will -in deed - surpass the letter of the Law of Moses. If I live now, it is Christ, the Lord of Love who lives in me. Faith, the living Law, is my guide.
Lastly we come to the scene in a Pharisees home. Somehow a woman of sinful reputation comes in, (it makes not mention that anyone detains her at any point), kneels at the feet of Jesus, and, while crying in sorrow for her own shortcomings and sins, applies kisses, tears and ointment on his feet, and wipes his feet with her hair. She does not look up once. The Pharisee, a follower of a sect of Judaism which considered themselves set apart because of their strict adherence
to purity - the purity of following all the laws set forth in the Torah - was inwardly beside himself with the numerous violations of the Law that this woman's action incurred. He inwardly questioned Jesus' reputation as a prophet.
Knowing this - Jesus put a question to him: Two people owed money to one man. Although the amounts were vastly different, which debtor will love (be grateful to) the man more. Simon the pharisee guessed it would be the one who had owed more.... and Jesus agreed.
He finally looked directly at the woman and said to Simon (I'm paraphrasing here)You've invited me to your impressive, beautiful home - but noone
washed my feet: this woman who noone
greeted - who is a stranger in your home, but known to you has knelt at my feet and bathed them with her tears of regret and expensive ointment and dried them with her own hair. You did not greet me with the customary kiss of peace, and she has showered my tired feet with her kisses. You did not bless me with the oil of blessing and she has covered my feet with comforting ointment. She has given from within and given from what little she has, showing humility and remorse for her shortcomings and repentance
. I forgive her because she has shown exceeding love. You may be doing all the right things according to the Law, but your heart and gratitude is not behind your actions.
He then made a shocking statement: YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN. His host and the other guests were aghast and the question they may have actually asked might have been:"WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS??? He thinks he can even forgive sins? [The Law states only G_d can forgive sins!!!!!!!!!!] Jesus continued: Your faith has saved you [remember, this echoes the letter to the Galatians].
We don't know what happened at the rest of the dinner party. I imagine some of it was very uncomfortable, if it continued at all. Perhaps the next day Jesus was back on the road again - along with the twelve, proclaiming and bringing the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Among his entourage there were women: cured and forgiven women, Mary - a woman who had experienced an exorcism plus a few other women - women who had their own money at their own disposal - who provided food and other necessities.
Did you find yourself as any of the characters in this story? I can think of fitting into the sandals of several of these people. Yet I come away with one bottom line. Sometimes More is NOT more. Those who had much considered themselves following the letter of the law and denying the Spirit. Those with less gave from their shortage - and were given incomparable forgiveness and peace.
Think back to the lady on the block who had a worndown
house, but always had a home made cookie for you...... about the comedian who made it through perseverence
and providing for their ailing parents.... about actors to can play it up or down because they only had their imaginations and wits - no toys - to keep themselves company. They started with less, yet reaped much more.
Sewing Love where you go - - - turns out to reap quite a return on your investment! Sew on, my brothers and sisters! Sew on!
Copyright © 2007 K.L.Joanna Depue
and DJ on http://www.geraniumfarm.org