As we enter the worship-space of our church we remind ourselves of our having entered the Church through baptism. We dip our fingers in the holy water and sign our bodies with the tracing of the cross. It is a reminder that God has claimed us as holy and set us aside for living the unusual life.
We are, at each moment of our days, making our way toward celebrating our beliefs together. We live the Eucharist in the particular manner with which each of us lives this unusual life. The dispersed, regathers, the particular rejoins, the individual reforms into the one Body of the living Christ. Each of us has a different walking-style. One takes little quick steps, one strides, and an other shuffles. How we walk toward the Eucharist and how we walk living the Eucharist can be different, but the particular way we live the Eucharist makes our lives unusual. Living His life in our unique manner is how we best prepare to rejoin His Body, the Church.
Today’s First Reading is an interruption of Jeremiah’s prophetic denouncement of how the people have been doing false worship. They have let go of the temple worship of their tradition. They have forsaken the God of their history. Jeremiah says that he is writing this with an iron pen and a diamond tip. The prophesy will continue after the verses we hear in this liturgy.
Our Reading is a bit poetic and similar to verses from the Book of Proverbs. There are reversals, similar to those of today’s Gospel. In a sense, there are two kinds of persons as there are two kinds of trees and how they are planted will make all the difference. The challenge is about where are our roots. What strengthens us. What is the source of our life’s activities.
Those who rely on the shallowness of the immediate now will live in the barrenness of the changeless. Those whose lives are propped up by their hope totally in human support have to make sure that everything remains predictable and stable. What they receive is the experience of the changeless desert. The only spice in their lives is the salt of preserving and endless thirst.
Those who reverence the now as it leads to the then are like trees rooted near a nourishing stream. They trust the beyond and are available to distress, and thirst during the times of the unknown. Their strength derives from something other than themselves or their kind.
This picture of contrasts challenges God’s people to return to trusting God rather than themselves for strength and security. They have pulled up their roots from the fertile soil of God’s goodness which apparently has not been good enough. They have forgotten who they are and are trying a new way of being their own persons. When these verses end, Jeremiah will speak of God’s anger and punishment by exile.
We continue the program of learning to listen and really hear what Jesus has come to teach us about the “Good News”. We will hear Luke’s account of the talk Jesus gives to His early group of disciples. Luke has four Beatitudes and four “woe-to-yous”, or maledictions. These are four strong statements about how things or conditions now will be reversed by those who will follow Jesus. Matthew has eight Beatitudes which predict the good life later in heaven for those who live the blessed life here on earth. Luke presents Jesus as telling His disciples that they, personally, are responsible for bringing about material justice and peace. He tells them that by doing this they will provoke resistance and they should expect persecution and rejection.
Jesus is fulfilling His role as prophet. He is announcing how He intends to live and predicting how He expects to be heard and received. He is inviting His listeners to follow Him as prophets of “root-changing”.
Luke’s presentation of Jesus here and often in his Gospel account emphasizes the poverty of riches and esteem. There are the poor and hungry as well as the rich and full. There are those who weep and those rejected and hated as well as those who enjoy being thought well of. From the moment of His unrolling the scripture in the synagogue to his unrolling of His life on the cross, Jesus is inviting His followers to reverse their own value-system and assist the value-rerooting of others. Jesus called Peter out of his boat, and away from the identity by which he was known and knew himself. The question will always be about where are your roots, what or who tells you who you are, and what are you going to do with it all.
I suspect that some of Jesus’ disciples may have been a little more well-off than others. They would not have considered themselves “rich” of course so they were okay. I suspect the rich of our days would always want more, so they do not consider themselves “rich” so they are okay. There are the hungry and those who weep because of their own poverty and hunger and that of others. Jesus says that they belong to the kingdom. Those who will speak about the poor and hungry will belong too, but they will be spoken against and will be given a sense that they do not belong. Those who will follow Jesus in His prophetic denouncings will receive what He received. They will belong to the Kingdom.
The rich, the unconcerned, the full and the esteemed belong to the” Now Generation” and they are already receiving all that they desire. The “Then Generation” will live the unusual way of grounding their roots in the “now” only as a way to bring about a better kingdom on earth. The Rich sing, “It’s now or never” so they take the “now road”. The poor, hungry and aware sing, “Here comes the sun” and live invested and rooted in the prophetic ways of Jesus. As we bless ourselves with holy water as part of our entering the worshiping community, we re-immerse our selves into the nourishing stream of Christ and His being immersed in the poverty and hunger of His family. We become the “sun” that is coming. We are the “now” and “then” generation begotten by the Spirit and given life in Christ to do something with it all.
“They ate and were filled; the Lord gave them what they wanted: they were not deprived of their desire.” Ps. 78, 29-30
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