Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012/09/09 Show no Partiality

Imagine we all are working one Friday night in the Emergency room at the hospital.  The ambulances come screaming up to the door with two women at the same time.  They had been involved in a head-on collision and both were severely injured.  You notice that one of the carts coming through the door has about a dozen cameras pointed toward it.  Everybody else here flocks to that gurney pulling out all of the stops to try and save that womans lifewhile the other woman lies unconscious on a cot next to the door. 

Would that be fair? 

But wait - What if the first woman was a big movie star or Oprah or the first Lady?  Would that make it more fair that she should get the most care? 

What if the other woman was a druggy and a prostitute would that make it fair that SHE would be left to die while the other woman gets all the life-saving attention? 

Hopefully we can all see that regardless of who these people are they have equal right to whatever care we can provide. 

Paul tells us today in that second reading, show no partiality.  Thats harder to put into practice than you think.  We automatically judge people and put them into categories:  the rich, the poor, the haves and the have-nots, the beautiful and the plain, the working and the unemployed, the reds and the blues, the pros and the antis, and a thousand other categories which in OUR mind ranks that person ahead or behind somebody with us or against us. 

Show no partiality.  But Jesus, surely you don't expect me to treat THAT person with respect...I mean....they're so ....well.... Less important than I am. 

Dorothy Day even before becoming Catholic started attending daily Mass and was impressed with the fact that both the business man and the farmer, the student and the dropout, the master and the servant, all worshipped side-by-side in the pew. 

You and I might not think thats anything special from our experience, anybody is allowed to walk through that door to pray with us.  We dont even have to TRY to make that happen.  Thats one of the beauties of the Catholic Church....even when we are a thousand miles from home...we are at home in the house of God.  We can go to any church for healing.  But look around... Who is lying on a cot and being ignored?  Who DOESNT feel welcomed here?  If people dont FEEL and EXPERIENCE the Love of God here in Gods house... whos fault is that?  Its MY fault. 

The Church gives us today's readings to make us stop and think...DO we do what the second reading tells us?  "Show no partiality".  Think about who is NOT here.  

The Hispanics?  They are Catholic, often more catholic than we are...but Ive never seen them in our church.  Are they welcome? 

Who has left our parish family?  I know of at least three people who no longer join us because for some reason they dont feel welcome.  They have a sin which they think is unforgivable.  Do WE make them feel that way?  You know we cant condone anybody's sin but I hate to think they might have left because they dont feel welcome.  You see as Christians we fall so easily into judging every action as right or wrong we see this book as a list of rules to follow - and if the BIBLE says an action is wrong, its easy for US to judge the person.  

This book is what we read every weekwhen we hear the words of Jesus, basically we are being offered the preferred way to live...the surest way to experience the blessings that God has in store for us...but when I preach about that preferred way to live, it would be easy for people to hear that I am condemning them....I gotta be real careful about that.  Please know that is NOT the case.  Every one of us falls short and therefore every one of us needs healing.  No one sin cuts you off from the vine.except the sin of not asking for forgiveness.

Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, and the tongue of the mute.  These are the people that according to the old law were cursed by God!  Did you get that?  The people Jesus was sent to were the people who were considered furthest away from God. 

Ephphatha!  Be Open! he commands.  But the command falls to us.  Be open to people who are different than us.  When we judge based on appearance, WE are the blind.  When we judge based on hear-say and gossip,WE are the deaf.  And when we fail to speak words of hope, love, and healing.WE are the mute.  Ephphatha be open! 

This Church is the hospital for sinners and you and I all work in the ER.  Maybe it helps to think of it that way, so we can see every person who walks through the door as someone whos hurt... by their sin.. and by the condemnation of others.  Everyone.ourselves includedneeds healing..  And if there is ever a Sunday when you DONT feel like you need healing like maybe I dont need to go to church today, remember THAT is the day that you need to be here to help someone ELSE heal.  People come into our church to EXPERIENCE the love of God right here in OUR midst. If we fail to give them that experience, then we are not fulfilling the mission of Jesus.  Look around for someone sitting here today...hurtingor even dying and being ignored...and heal them with love.

Dorothy Day summed it up well:

I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.

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