Sunday, October 06, 2019

Homily on the Festival of St. Francis

         Today’s gospel begins: 
         Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, “I repent”, you must forgive.’
The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ … and so on, as we get into today’s lesson

         Think what Jesus is saying here
—live faithfully,
help others live faithfully,
when you fail to do so repent,
when others sin against you and repent, forgive ‘em.
         And the disciples respond, “Jeeze, that’s too much… give us enough faith to do such a thing!”
         “Oh come now,” Jesus replies, “you all were just bragging that you bound up Satan and would follow me to the end and would do great unimaginable things… and now you’re frightened of saying you’re sorry to one another when you screw up and forgiving one another when they screw up? What kind of faithfulness is that? If I’m your master, and that’s what you all keep calling me, shouldn’t you at least do the bare minimum?”
Let us pray

         We’re called to take Jesus seriously, following him isn’t a hobby, but a whole way of life. 
-Pray persistently. 
-Be generous with your whole self.
-Love your neighbor, especially if they are different than you or in need. 
-When you screw up ask for forgiveness and give the same courtesy to others.
         I often worry that North American Christianity sells itself short… that we’d prefer razzle-dazzle and a wink to faithfulness, sleepy there-theres to Christ
—we prefer cheap grace to the generous grace bought by the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son.
         And so it has always been. St. Francis, who we celebrate today, took seriously Jesus’ sending of the 70, bereft of bag and called to beg,
took seriously Jesus’ ministry to lepers and found himself among lepers.

         This was in marked contrast to the ostentatious and worldly Church of his day
 gilded in gold,
a safe planted and walled off church,
larger than life
and more powerful and self assured than the greatest kings and tyrants.
         Yes, Francis called the bloated church of his day out into the ordinary world, called it to a humility and smallness that was indeed faithful, a church like a mustard seed.
         And so may our church and our faith be as well!
A Mustard seed Church
A Mustard seed Faith
Jesus’ calls us to be Christians in our real life!
In the ordinariness of our life,
not simply here in this building but in all of our roles and relationships.
-Persistently pray & work for justice as a citizen or immigrant,
-be generous at your job,
-love your neighbor in the checkout line & restaurant,
-admit your mistakes as a spouse,
-forgive as a sibling.
         These need not be big, extraordinary acts…. just mustard seeds!
         Plant those seeds so that all may see Jesus!

         Show ‘em Jesus, because just as we ought to take Jesus seriously, he does take us seriously.
The audacious scenario Jesus spells out today—the master as servant, is indeed what he has done for us. (Donkey makes all the difference)
-In John’s Gospel we see him embody love by kneeling down and washing his disciple’s feet—that startling concreteness is Jesus taking us seriously!
-The Apostle Paul describes Jesus taking us seriously when he writes in Philippians,
“he did not horde his divinity, but emptied himself and became a servant, in the image of humanity, humbled himself to death, even execution on a cross.”
-In Revelation we read that Jesus is a Lion who, for us, is also a slain lamb…
         My point is Jesus takes each one of us incredibly seriously, he loves us and respects us more than we will ever know.
         And so too Francis—Jesus took him seriously.
I speculate, I wonder, if his saintliness was directly tied to the greatness of his need. Francis was, after all, a prisoner of war and a returned disenchanted veteran of the Wars of the Italian City States. If only every disillusioned veteran was met by Jesus as they tried to put everything back together again after the war… what a world it would be

         In conclusion…. Take Jesus seriously, small acts of faith are incredibly faithful, & know Jesus takes you seriously.