Reflection for Sunday – September 11, 2022
Readings: Exodus 32: 7-11, 13-14; 1 Timothy 1: 12-17; Luke 15: 1-32
Preacher: Susan Howard
Several years ago one of our churches held a procession with the Blessed Sacrament on Feast of Corpus Christi. I had the task of finding someone to carry the cross that leads the procession. I could have asked one of our faithful ushers, or one of the upstanding young people as someone worthy to carry that cross but God moved me to ask a man from the drug rehab facility nearby and who occasionally attended the Church. He looked at me incredulously and stated that he was nowhere near worthy to carry that cross. I persisted and told him that he wasn’t being judged by his past actions or measured by his faithful attendance; we just needed him to be there with us on this pilgrimage of faith.
Reluctantly he said he would be honored. By the end of that procession he was transformed. With tears in his eyes, he said he had this “ah ha” moment, that he finally understood what the whole “religious thing” was all about. He didn’t have any fancy theological words to describe his joy, but in God’s own way he was brought back into God’s good graces and made whole again. He was redeemed. I don’t know where he is in his life’s journey, but I do know that he got a taste of the love that God has to offer and hopefully he has had opportunities to pay that forward.
It is said that God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Like Abraham, who was called from his everyday life to become the Father of Faith for three of the major religions; and Paul, who though a sinner and murderer was redeemed to go on to proclaim God’s greatness; and the wayward son who preferred the hedonistic pleasures of the wild life to a life lived with God—all were Redeemed! Their lives were made new and whole.
Not because they did anything to deserve this gift, but because of God’s mercy alone. They were called in their own time and place to be living witnesses of God’s great love and care for everyone in the human race.
In all three readings we hear that the receivers of the gift of redemption want to celebrate with all their family and friends. They want to lavishly pour out their joy with others. It’s not something they keep to themselves, nor do they “lord it over” others as if they were deserving of this great love; rather, they pour out their joy and give it back to the world. For the truth is, it’s not about the ones who received the gift of love, forgiveness and redemption, it’s about the giver of the gift—God the creator of all that is good.
I hope you have had your own “ah ha” moments. Perhaps you have even received God’s forgiveness for the missteps you have taken along life’s journey. More than just forgiven, brought into the fold of God’s graces, made whole, all the love of God poured into your being. Redeemed!
As we enter into a time of Eucharistic Revival, help us to remember that our prayers and participation in the Sunday Mass releases the power of God through the simple elements of bread and wine so that we become food for the healing of the world. I hope these scripture passages will reinvigorate our efforts to invite all people into our Sunday celebrations, especially those we think are undeserving. And that somehow we can infuse our celebrations with a joy that represents the bountiful love of God!
This September we mark the 21st year since the tragic events of 9/11/2001. We will remember all those who lost their lives in the crashes and honor whose came forward to attend to the people trapped in the towers, and those lost in the senseless maze of confusion in the aftermath of the destruction. There were first responders, military and good Samaritans who were selfless and brave and driven to help in anyway possible to save lives. They did not measure the cost nor did they think about the worthiness of who were to be saved—they just knew that there were people who needed help to survive. They were called at that moment in time to be the hands and feet of Christ himself. To save the lost.
And that is what we are each called to do in this life—to reach out and invite people into a life of hope, justice, and peace.