Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Obey Him!

12 Sunday B #95

Jb 38, 1. 8-11
Ps 107
2 Cor 5, 14-17
Mk 4, 35-41

Deacon Tom Cornell
St. Mary’s Church
Marlboro, N.Y.
June 21, 2009

“Who can this man be that the wind and the sea obey him?”

“The love of Christ impels us,” drives us on, Saint Paul writes. Since one man died for all of us, all of us have died. That is, we live now not for ourselves but we live for Christ, and since Christ died for all, we are to live for all, not just for some, not for the deserving, but for all.

The old order has passed away. No longer may we judge between those who deserve our love and mercy and those who do not.
“He makes his sun to shine and his rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” “Judge not lest you be judged.” “By the measure you judge you will be judged.” “Who are you to judge? There is one judge!” There can’t be any doubt about what these words mean. They mean what they say!

There is still a tendency among us to judge, let us say, the “deserving poor” as opposed to the “undeserving poor,” and under that rubric to deny even children the means to life. The majority of the poor are children, you know! That’s a fact! The governor of California suggests that the children of the poor might pay the state out of its debt by forgoing health care! Decent pagans would blush! Who is the undeserving child? If there are any undeserving children, show them! What have they done? What have they failed to do?

Jesus came to announce good news to the poor, not to the “deserving poor,” but to the poor. What do you suppose good news sounds like to the poor? “Some of you have been found deserving, so you have my blessing. On the other hand, you laggards and slackers, you can take your lumps! Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps!” It’s hard to imagine Jesus saying anything like that. It sounds like blasphemy, doesn’t it?

Let me tell you about Randy, a black man 32 years old but still a child, mildly retarded and epileptic. He was almost naked on the streets of Waterbury, Connecticut, wearing a hospital johnny-coat in sub-zero weather for three days in February. When he threw an epileptic seizure at our soup kitchen I called an ambulance, and because I have a clergy pass, I was able to get into the Emergency Room and stand by his side while he was being examined. The doctor told the nurses to clean him up. Then he said, “It’s amazing this man is still alive…. Dismiss him!” Dismiss him?

Monica and I took Randy home. It took a year and a half but at last we got him into supervised independent housing instead of a grave. That’s one reason why I feel such anger that the denial of medical care still goes on in this land that calls itself Number One, the richest country in the history of the world. Shame! Shame is too weak a word!

Woe, vae, guai, veh! Jesus became angry. He hurled these words at the hypocrites of his day. Hypocrites in our day preach thrift and hard work to the poor and the working people and then fatten themselves on what they have stolen from them. Who are they? The insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and the politicians they buy! The love of Christ impels us to tell the truth, to name them and demand an end to this. Lord have mercy on us all!

Jesus was no misty-eyed sentimentalist who did not understand evil. Jesus knew evil all too well. He saw it from a cross! He conquered evil, the great evil of sin and death. The tomb could not hold him. He has overcome and we who are in him, we shall overcome too. Do we really believe it? Then leave the separation of the sheep from the goats, the deserving from the undeserving to him in the hope of mercy for ourselves, but save the children. That’s the way to overcome.

The wind and the sea obeyed Jesus. They had no choice. We do. That is our glory and our dread. 