Proper 9 (C)- The 4th Sun after Pentecost
The Rev. Dr. David K. McIntosh
2 Kings 5. 1-14; Psalm 30; Galatians 6. 1-16; Luke 10. 1-11; 16-20
“If anyone is there who shares peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.” †
In our epistle today, Paul speaks to the Galatian Church (a first Century community in what is now Turkey) about the importance of humility and respect in dealing one another. He cautions them against ‘boasting,’ against self-aggrandizement and selfreliance. And he proclaims something quite shocking, at least to an outsider— “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We have all witnessed the many conflicts occurring thought out the world. Indeed, on this 4th of July weekend within our own country, we continue to hear debates over personal freedom, and subjects of racial and gender equality, over sexual orientation and marriage rights, and over national security, and whether freedom involves the ability to walk the streets without fear or the need to arm oneself to the teeth. And people are taking sides. They’ve been passionate in their responses, lashing out at
opponents and claiming the most outrageous and despicable of things about ‘the other.’ These reactions are triggered by human frustration, the fear of losing autonomy and control, of losing one’s own freedom, and they are products of the human need to be ‘right.’ And it’s this that Paul is addressing to the Galatians. It’s a sad letter, actually…especially the portion we heard last week, where Paul points out— They sought joy, and
in their search for joy engaged in drunkenness and carousing. They longed for kindness and peace, yet following their own desires, found quarrels and strife. They looked for faith, seeking to know God, and ultimately engaged in sorcery and idolatry. They yearned for love, only to find impurity, self-pleasure, jealousy, and anger. They strove to become a loyal community and wanted fellowship, but instead they harbored jealousy and dissention, and formed factions. Sound familiar?
The mystery of the Cross reveals the way God is, at least to we who are Christians. Christ sacrificed himself humbly on the Cross and suffered a horrible death, an action that seems foolish to many, displaying weakness. And yet that action of humility, the willingness to suffer for and with others, is the ultimate call for Christians. As Paul says elsewhere in 2 Corinthians: “Power is made perfect in weakness.” The message is that
being a Christian and part of the community of Christ is not about self-reliance or any power we think we hold, but its about mutual dependence and acceptance of the other.
I believe this is illustrated beautifully in the Gospel passage we heard from Luke today, it’s a familiar passage, and has much to say about being a community, that is a parish in the missional age. There are few remarkable aspects I would like us to consider today…
The first is the declaration, “The kingdom of God has come near” (vs 9). It’s a message the disciples are to proclaim out in the world and it makes clear that there is a new way of doing things! The old way is over. Specifically, the way of the world is no longer important, the way of God is what is important! It stresses a new era in human relations, to God and to one another. Consider what Jesus tells them, when “they do not welcome
you,” shake off the dust off your feet. That is, do not be weighed down by rejection. Don’t let yourselves be paralyzed, do not expend excess effort on a lost cause, but move forward with confidence to those who are open to what you have to offer.
Second, Jesus continues to teach about tolerance. Recall from last week’s passage in Luke… Jesus’ response to his rejection by the Samaritan village is not about vengeance, it’s about tolerance. Jesus shows, in this example and many others described throughout Luke, what it means to be tolerant of ‘the other.’ When people reject what he offers, he does not become angry or curse them, he simply moves on. And his tolerance is not based on indifference and exclusion, but on love. Today in a similar manner he declares, “If anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you” (vs. 6). Peace… God’s
people are grounded in God’s peace, and this parish should be grounded in God’s peace, that “peace which surpasses understanding” (Phil 4.7). God’s peace, shalom. God’s peace is more than just calm or quiet; it is confidence in God’s presence with us, now and always. It’s not about reactivity or revenge, it’s about engaging with others with mutual peace and understanding; relating to others, even those we dislike or are afraid of, as if they are children of God. It’s about being fully and lovingly present to another whenever we can. It’s not easy, often our love and peace is rejected, and sometimes we are hurt. And Jesus tells us not to worry about that, not to engage in debate or polemics, but simply to move on. For even if someone does not share your peace (which is God’s peace) it cannot be taken away from you. Simply let go and move on, and it will return to
you. If the peace you display is truly God’s peace, shalom, it will always return to you!
As a spiritual exercise before we share in the Eucharist and for the rest of the week, I ask you to reflect on these concepts in your own life:
• “The kingdom of God has come near.”
– This week, when have you experienced or noticed God’s way of doing things in this world?
– When something happens ask, is God at work in this?
– Do I see God’s actions and love in my life and in the life of this parish?
– What is the new way I am asked to consider?
• Tolerance— “Peace to this house!”
– When have I been tolerant to those who annoy me? To those I’m afraid of? Who attack me?
-When have I experienced God’s peace (shalom) around me? When have I not?
– How do I reflect God’s peace to others around me… to my family, my friends, my co-workers, and those I dislike?
– How can I sustain that ‘peace which is beyond understanding’ in my life?