Archive for the ‘14th Sunday’ Category

Instruments of Peace, Who Me? 7-7-2019

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Lord, we hear today that You sent many others out before us as
instruments of Your peace, and I am told that You want all of us here to
be instruments of Your peace; I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all of
this and so I have to ask, where do we begin?
A woman was standing on a curb, waiting for the light to say
WALK so that she could cross the street. Directly across from her on the
opposite curb was a girl of about 17. She too was waiting for the light to
say WALK so that she could cross the street.
The woman couldn’t help but notice that the girl was crying. In
fact, her grief was so great that she made no effort to hide it. For a
moment their eyes met. It was only a fleeting glance, but it was enough
for the woman to see the terrible pain that filled the girl’s eyes. Then the
girl looked away.
At that moment the light changed. Each stepped off the curb into
the street and started across. As the girl approached, the woman could
see that she was quite pretty, except for that terrible grief in her face.
Just as they were about to meet, the woman’s motherly instincts came
rushing to the surface. Every part of her wanted to reach out and comfort that girl. The desire was all the more great because the girl was
about the same age as one of her own daughters.
But the woman passed her by. She didn’t even greet her. She just
passed her by. Hours later the pain-filled eyes of that girl continued to
haunt the woman. Over and over the woman said to herself, “Why
didn’t I turn, fall in step with her, and say, ‘Can I help?’ But I didn’t. I
walked on by. Sure, she might have rejected me and thought me a nosey
person. But, so what! “Only a few seconds would have been lost, but
those few seconds would have been enough to let her know that someone cared. But, instead, I walked on by. I acted as if she didn’t
even exist.”
I have been reminded many times that a person in need does not
always need a great expenditure of our energy, or our time, or our money. What they need most is a simple and sincere sign that we care.
Our Scriptures this week, last week and next week, do not invite us
to go out, risk our lives, and become religious heroes or superstars; they
invite us to reach out, risk our pride, and become humans; they invite us
to ask sincerely, “Can I help?” Instruments of Your peace . . . “Can I
help?” – that is where we begin.

Too Good To Be True! 7-8-2018

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

You’re just too good to be true! You have a great build and a sharp mind! You’re a snappy dresser and a smart looker. You’ve got all the credentials: sociable, sensitive, caring. You’re just too good to be true!
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you be thrilled and overjoyed if someone approached you and marveled, “You’re too good to be true!” That’s how the home folks put it when they heard Jesus teach in the synagogue that Sabbath. As he taught they whispered, “Who’s this guy? Where did he get all the smarts? How did he get the magic touch? He’s better than a chiropractor or a shrink!” They went bananas over him! They were so excited they tripped over one another to get a better look. And when they did?
Someone in the crowd gasped, “That’s that…ah…ah…Mary’s kid, you know, the Mary who takes in the wash!” And someone else chimed in, “Sure, that’s Mary’s kid. Her husband is Joe, Joe whatchamacallit? Their cousins live in the old shack a couple of blocks down the street from us.” Then do you know what happened? They stopped dead in their tracks, shook their heads sadly, and whined, “Too good to be true! We know where he comes from. He’s from the other side of the tracks. Oh, he put on a good show: he fooled us for a minute. We thought he was a real whiz – that he could teach all of us a thing or two. But now we know he’s “too good to be true!”
Too good to be true? What a turnaround! They were silly people back then, weren’t they?
Back then? Has anything really changed? (I hope so).
Someone says, “Hey, you’re intelligent, sensitive, caring. You’re perfect for the job but, uh, we don’t want women in this business. Tsk! Tsk! Too good to be true!”
Or, “My goodness!” You have impeccable credentials. We want responsible people like you living in our building. But, uh, there’s a little problem. Tsk! Tsk! The color of your skin! Oh well – too good to be true!”
Or, “Do you know how badly we need someone to teach these kids? You come with the highest recommendations. But, hmmm, you are one of them aren’t you? Too good to be true! See you!”
It doesn’t take much reflection to realize how our biases change our outlook on the world. First we are impressed with what we see and hear. Then the bias takes over and what we saw and heard we didn’t see or hear. Too good to be true! What are the consequences of bias in these situations?
Jesus’ townspeople lost out because if they had received Jesus into their lives they would have been enriched by his presence. Jesus lost too! He couldn’t be for them what he had intended, and this was his loss. Our biases prevent us from appreciating others’ gifts, which then inhibits them from developing these gifts. After all, without others appreciating our talents, we might not be motivated to develop them. “You’re too good to be true” is either others’ positive assessment of who we are or their dismissal of us altogether! Affirm or deny. The choice is yours.

The Class of the NCAA 7-9-2017

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

A few springs ago, Western Oregon State played Central Washington University in women’s softball for the conference championship. An NCAA playoff spot was on the line. With two on, Western Oregon’s Sara Tucholsky connected to hit a home run clearing the center field fence. It was Sara’s first home run ever. A part-time starter in the outfield, Sara, a senior, had only 3 hits in 34 at-bats all season.
But as she circled the bases, Sara fell and hurt her knee. The five-foot-two-inch senior lay crumpled in the dirt a few feet from first base—and a long way from home plate.
Her teammates ran to help her—but their coaches stopped them: According to the rules, if any teammate ran on to the field, Sara would be called out. The umpires said that if Sara could make it back to first base, a pinch runner could be substituted—but Sara’s home run would be scored a single. Any assistance from coaches or trainers while Sara was an active runner would result in an out.
While Western Oregon was deciding its next move, the first baseman for Central Washington asked the umpire chief if she and her teammates could help her. The umpire knew of no rule against the opposing team helping the player—so two Central Washing players put their arms under Sara’s legs and Sara put her arms around their shoulders and the three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Sara touch each base.
Central Washington’s compassion cost them. They lost the game—and the playoff berth—4.2.
But that didn’t seem to faze Central Washington. “In the end, it’s not about winning and losing so much”, Washington’s first baseman Mallory Holtman said. “It was about this girl. She’s a senior; it’s her last year. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run. It was the right thing to do”.
This ultimate act of sportsmanship mirrors the generosity of spirit and humility of hear that Jesus asks of us in today’s Gospel. When Jesus calls his disciples to embrace the simple faith of “little ones”, he is not saying that our approach to faith should be “watered down” to the level of children. He is calling us, instead, to embrace a faith that is centered in the love and compassion of God: love that is not compromised by self-interest and rationalization, compassion that is not measured but given completely and unreservedly. Christ is asking us to embrace a faith that is simple, pure and honest—not complicated and compromised by “adult stuff” like winning and losing. May the “wise and learned” among us embrace the spirit of generosity and selflessness exhibited by the Central Washing University women’s softball team—the class of the NCAA.