Havenwood Homily for October 19, 2016

Saint Luke is an evangelist. That is, he wrote one of the four Gospels in the Bible. That is, he was a person who shared and spread the message of Jesus.

Jesus himself is also an evangelist. He shares and spreads the message of God. In Luke 4, Jesus takes up the scroll and reads from Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

In the Old Testament, God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to give us that promise. In Jesus Christ, takes those words, those promises and speaks them, lives them and acts them out. Jesus not only spreads the message of God, he is the message of God. As latter-day prophet Marshall McLuhan put it, “the medium is the message.”

So what does Luke say about Jesus, about the message that this person embodies? Luke’s gospel marks the reality and activity of the Holy Spirit in the everyday world, especially in acts of prayer, acts of healing and in acts of loving service. Luke shows us Jesus, the message of a God, who lives and acts in us. In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero put it like this:

God’s best microphone is Christ,
and Christ’s best microphone is the church,
and the church is all of you.
let each one of you, in your own job, in your own vocation –
nun, married person, bishop, priest,
high school or university student,
day laborer, wage earner, market woman –
each one in your own place live the faith intensely and feel that in your surroundings
you are a true microphone of God our Lord.

Havenwood Homily for January 20, 2016

“Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:12)

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Changing water into wine is the first of Jesus’ deeds of power. John call these manifestations “signs” of Jesus. From this beginning, Jesus uses his power for good. His power is a mercy, a kindness to his neighbor.

We have lots of warnings about about power. Power corrupts (Lord Acton). With great power comes great responsibility (Spiderman). In all, that powerful people should use their power not for their own gain, but for the good of others.

When when I think of the powerful people these statements are meant for, I never think of myself. Powerful people are presidents and billionaires, not folk like me, right?

But St. Paul tells us that we do have power–power from the Spirit. It’s the same power that was in Jesus’ signs. It’s the power to heal, to speak love, to listen to God, to interpret difficult truths. The Spirit’s power is incredible but also easily twisted. Shell we use this power to hurt, to exclude, to puff ourselves up?

Or, like Jesus, will we recognize ourselves as filled with the Spirit’s power and find ways to use that power for our neighbor’s good and thus reveal God’s glory?

Havenwood Homily for June 17, 2015

“With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything.”

From this parable, we are reminded that by trade Jesus was a carpenter who spent his time with fisherman. That’s because this parable sounds unreal to any farmer or gardner. How many gardeners would love to be able to scatter seed and then not worry? No water, no weeds, no bugs, no animals, “the seed [just] sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”

But instead of giving us a planting almanac, Jesus’ parable teaches an important spiritual principle: understanding comes through patience. The grain takes time to ripen and grow, “first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” So also does understanding God’s purpose with our lives and with the world. Jesus only explains things in cryptic parables, saying only enough as to be understood. Only on the rare occasion, alone with the disciples, did Jesus explain everything clearly.

Our impatience demands results and understanding immediately. We respond to breaking news and to-the-moment weather reports. Yet, like planting, so little of what matters in life can be understood and appreciated in a rush.

At our home in Pembroke, we keep chickens and collect their eggs. We can get about a dozen eggs in a week, but of course not all at once. The chickens lay when they are ready. Of course we could just pick up a dozen eggs at the supermarket from a factory farm.

But if you’ve ever had a farm fresh egg, still warm from the roosting box, you know the difference between that and the tasteless supermarket egg. It’s the same difference in flavor between a pale, hot-housed tomato and a bright, juicy tomato from your own garden.

Jesus’ parable points us toward that old adage that “life can only be lived forward and can only be understood in reverse.” Life moves forward at an unforgiving speed and to see the world “from a worldly point of view” leaves us breathlessly rushed and without deeper understanding of our lives.

Rather for us who are in Christ, we heed his parable that understanding our lives, our world and our God come only with age and experience, with patience and reflection, and with meditation and prayer. Amen.