Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 18, 2019

Maybe it’s an attempt to counter the constant barrage of bad news, the violence and destruction and division and hatred in the world.  But it seems like every major network has a story to offer at the end of the newscast about another hero or someone with who has done an extraordinary act of kindness. 

And I’m not about to take away an iota of deserved attention for what men and women around the country are doing in good deeds for their neighbors, or going above and beyond their job or their role in taking a risk, or making a sacrifice for a stranger or a neighbor.  But isn’t that what we are supposed to do?  Isn’t that simply doing our part in this world. 

Jeremiah wasn’t a hero; he was just simply doing what God called him to do, calling out the injustices and greed of the kingdom.  Yes, the consequences sucked; he definitely didn’t deserve the cistern.  And I wasn’t there in the bottom of that muddy pit, but I doubt that Jeremiah thought of himself as a hero.  He was a prophet.

And isn’t that what Jesus was declaring to his disciples that day, that he had to do what he was called to do?  He had a fire to start that would turn the world upside down.  But I doubt that when he stood before his disciples he was suggesting that it was heroics that was driving him.  He was doing what he came to do.

Do you think the early church saw themselves as heroes?  Wasn’t their resistance to sin simply living out their call as followers of Christ?  “Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”  Those are not the words of a hero; they are the words of a community of faith that deeply understood who they were and what they were called to do.

A mother who sits at the bedside of a sick child.  A kid who rakes the leaves of his aging neighbor.  A husband who stands in protection of his wife.  Isn’t that who we are to be?  -  A woman who speaks up at an injustice she’s perceived.  A man who calls out his boss over an unjust practice.  The crowd who shouts “enough” in the face of another shooting.  The stranger who pulls the child from a burning car. Isn’t that what anyone of us would do if we had the chance?    -  A student who calls out a friend when “stupid” takes over their brain.  A friend who steps up and takes on the bully face-to-face or intervenes when his friend is killing themselves with alcohol.  Are not we all called to be that friend?

It’s not about being a hero so much as it is about keeping Christ alive in this world with our courage and strength.  It’s about making Christ present in our families with our persistence and perseverance.  It’s about giving flesh to Christ in our communities with our patience and tolerance.   It’s about being Christ for one another with our compassion and mercy, with our love. 

It just seems that to live our lives as we are called to live them as Christians is all the heroics that God expects of any of us, and all the heroics the evening news would need.  

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