The Reverend John Smith, Homily, November 13, 2016 The Jesus Party
The election in the United States is over. We have a new president. For many years I’ve urged my parishioners, who always represented many different political viewpoints, to pray and vote, and know that when they gather with their beloved party, they will find themselves in the minority of their party on some issues because of their faith in Jesus. For me, the Gospel of Jesus provides the best platform guiding us all to live together in peace, justice, and love with all of our brothers and sisters in this world. I’ve always thought of myself as a member of the Jesus party!
Saints are members of the Jesus Party. Last week, on the Feast of All Saints, I talked about the work of saints. To be a saint is to work in field of love and reconciliation. This is not easy work, most often a struggle, but always a labor of love. It is to do everything possible to foster the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, where all people are loved and their dignity respected, in this world. The Kingdom is most present among the poor and powerless, those who are the victims of violence and greed, and who have no one to look after them and their rights except members of the Jesus Party.
As we come to the last weeks of the church’s liturgical year the scripture texts are taken from what is called apocalyptic literature which was popular in Jesus’ time and persists in our own day. For example, ISIS is looking for a decisive “apocalyptic” battle to take place between all those faithful to Islam (them) and all the unfaithful (infidels) on the plain of Dabiq. The word “apocalyptic” means revealing or unveiling of a great truth, namely, who is righteous or not, who’s good or evil. So, in today’s Gospel, when Jesus is looking at the Temple (with his disciples reveling in its beauty and adornment) and says that it will be destroyed and not a stone will be left upon stone, something is being unveiled or revealed to them. What is being revealed? In a word: violence. Violence is unveiled for what it is: entirely human in origin and not of God.
We like to keep the violence of the world “veiled.” Veiled, sacred violence (because we think we are doing God’s work against evil), has an air of respectability. It’s backed, so we think, by important moral and religious principles. Of course, when we witness random acts of violence, the kind we witness on TV or read about in the papers, everyone deplores it. This kind of violence is bad, because it doesn’t have the same respectability and “moral” backing supporting it as the “veiled” variety does.
We, like the disciples, are shocked when violence is unveiled as not having God’s approval. We’re afraid of what lies ahead if human beings continue to war, each side claiming God is on their side. Fear is our greatest enemy. But the prophets (like today’s Isaiah’s reading of a day coming when the lion will lay down with the lamb) tell us God will restore us and creation and the Gospel tells us God is with us (Emmanuel) always. This knowledge (revelation) enables us to live as if we know and see something the world doesn’t know or see. Violence is no longer veiled. We know God’s love and justice will prevail in spite of the evil humans do to each other.
So the real “election” is not every four years, but every day. We elect to live the platform of the Jesus Party. We don’t do very well living it out so we gather together to be forgiven for our failures, hear the message once again, get nourished with holy food, and get sent out into the world to try to live the life of our standard bearer Jesus again. He leads us!