This is an assignment for my Homiletics class. Randomly picks out of a hat, as it were, it’s a coincidence that these are the readings for last Sunday. Yes, these homily assignments are extremely on-brand for me.
The Readings for the 27th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you.Luke 17:9-10a
THERE WERE SIX months when I tried my vocation as a Benedictine Monk, 8000 feet above sea level in the Colorado Rockies. 11 inches of snow on May 1st, 2016 and our traditionalist monastic practice seemed to go on forever, like the snow.
4:30 wake-up, Matins at 5. 45 mins for meditation. The offices of Lauds, and Prime, then a house meeting where we planned out the day. The 3rd hour was sung, then Mass. Then coffee.
Father Abbot seemed happy for any pious excuse or extra devotion to maximize our liturgy. It kept growing longer.
One day as I was struggling, trying to pray through this telescoping dreamscape of liturgy, a thought came to me:
Remember: you’re a monk. What else do you have to do today?
That was the right idea! I relaxed into the deep end of liturgical traditionalism and began – anew – my monastic struggle in earnest.
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
The psalmist is not calling us to a beginning but rather into the middle of an ongoing story. The people of Israel are already on their journey. They have heard God’s voice several times.
If today you again hear his voice, harden not your hearts again. Nor tomorrow for that matter.
Jesus speaks of beginnings in our Gospel: Mustard seeds are tiny. Yet, elsewhere, Jesus says the mustard seed grows into the largest of trees and the birds of the air live in the branches.
But here? Jesus does go on, doesn’t he?
When a servant finishes one chore, does the master say, “Good job! Come chill out with me!” No. When you’re done with that, the master says to you, here’s another thing to do. And another. There will be rest when I’m done with you.
If you’re married, is there any time you get to say, “For a few moments I shall pretend I’m not married…”
No. There is not.
When we first give our lives to the Lord, we can imagine a one-and-done deal. But the Christian life is not like that at all. There is no minimum for success.
Jesus wants to be the Lord of our entire lives: our sexuality, our piety, our emotions, our politics, our friendships, our social media, our reading, our media consumption, our clothing choices.
Not a day passes when at least once, or more often more than once, Jesus says, “Huw? You forgot to give me that bit over there.” Yet, when I hear his voice, often my first response is O, now hold up a minute God…
Jesus reminds us today that – like marriage – there is no time in the Christian life when you can pretend you’re not called to holiness, no time to pretend you’re not in a deeply personal relationship with your Lord; no time to pretend you’re not a Christian.
We all can recognize when such pretending happens: it’s called sin. We harden our hearts like that all the time. Rejecting his call. Refusing his love. Refusing to share his love with others.
Don’t. If you hear his voice do not harden your heart!
Jesus reminds us of beginnings, but if a mere seed of faith can move blueberries, imagine how much more power there is when the tree is fully grown and providing shade and home for birds! Even then, Jesus reminds us to say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done only what we were obliged to do.”
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
In today’s 2nd Reading, Paul calls Timothy – and us – to “stir into flame the gift of God.” We must – by faith – stir our cooling embers back to full flame. Ask God what is needed and he will show you where to gently puff on the coals, where to stir, where to rake back the ashes.
And when you ask, don’t turn away from what God has for you next! It’s always your salvation. It’s always for your healing. He’s always calling us forward to holiness and sainthood. But, it is work!
Give yourself – entirely – to Jesus again. Invite him at Communion Time to be the Lord of your whole Life again.
Plant your mustard seed then let it grow.
Remember. You’re a Christian. What else do you have to do today?