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Homily for September 12, 2010 24th Sunday of the Year

posted Sep 12, 2010, 10:39 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

24th Sunday of the Year

St. Mary's, Huntingburg

September 11-12, 2010

 

 

                "What man among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?"

Are you kidding me?

... a shepherd is going to leave his 99 healthy sheep  in the middle of the desert ... and he's going to leave them alone ... "as long as it takes" to find one lost sheep?

OK, that one sheep might be valuable in itself ... yes, there might be sheep dogs to help watch the 99 sheep while he's away ... but what sane shepherd is going to leave 99 sheep ... in hand ... in the desert ... in order to search for one missing sheep ... that he might find or not find ... in a big ol' desert, stretching in every direction all around him?

Not many, I'd say.

But Jesus is saying that God is like that crazy shepherd.

That's how much God has his heart set on finding sinners ... re-claiming sinners ... embracing sinners.

 

                "What woman, having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching for it carefully until she finds it?"

OK, now that does make a little more sense ... if she only has ten coins ... and if they're valuable ...

But, if she finds the coin, is that woman really going to call her friends and neighbors and ask them to "rejoice with her?"

Well, obviously, each and every one of those coins is really, really important to her.

But doesn't that still seem just a little "over the top?"

But Jesus is saying that God is like that woman ... and each and every sinner is like that precious lost coin to God.

God is like "over the top" in seeking out lost sinners.

 

                Now, here's the kicker ...

Jesus says that the angels are going rejoice over one sinner who repents ... one sinner.

Now ... come on ... let's get serious here.

You mean: the angels up in heaven ... who, since the creation of the world, have seen it all ... millions and millions sinners come and gone ... throughout history and all over the world ... and still ... those angels in heaven ... they're going to rejoice over one sinner who repents ... just one ...?

Those angels must have really gotten the memo from God that each and every sinner is important to him ... precious to him ... desired by him.

 

                Now, that is mighty good news ...

At least, it's mighty good news ... for sinners ... for people who know that they're sinners.

Because if we aren't sinners ourselves ... well, then, ho hum, "isn't that interesting" ... for those sinners?

 

                Now, just in case we need some help recognizing ourselves among those sinners ... as that lost sheep ... as that missing coin ...

... we have this story in the first reading about the Golden Calf ...

It's a story about sinners.

Moses has left the people to go up the mountain to talk to God ... and, before you know it, those people have melted down all their gold and made a statue of a bull, and they're worshipping it.

Now ... maybe ... just maybe ... the people didn't think that they were worshiping a God other than the one true God ...

... it's just that they needed a god that they could see ...

It's just too hard to worship a God you can't see ...

[Have you ever noticed that?]

The people were on the road to a land that they had never seen ... promised by a God that they couldn't see ... and, especially on a hard road into an unknown future, it's just too hard to trust in a God that you can't see or touch or hear ...

And so, they wanted to bring God "down to size" ... make him more manageable ... figure out a way to make God be what they expected him to be ... so that he would do what they expected him to do ...

 

                And sometimes, that's us ...

Yeah, sometimes, we don't worship God ... or pray to God ... or thank him as we ought ... because we can't see him with our eyes ...  and, well ... "out of sight, out of mind" ...

Other times, when the going gets tough on our road into an unknown future ... when we face difficulties, challenges, loss ... we find it's just too hard to trust in a god whom we can't see.

We don't want to trust a god we can't see.

We want a more "manageable" god ... we want a god when can see, rather than one we have  trust ... a god who does what we expect .. . when we expect him to ...

But a more "manageable" god isn't really god at all ... a manageable god is an idol ... not a God.

And idolatry, as the story of the Golden calf tells us, is a sin.

And, sometimes, that's us.

                Or maybe the people of Israel had just decided that they wanted another god.

They wanted a different god ... a better god ... a god more suited to their liking ... a god like the people around them worshipped.

Maybe they wanted a god that wouldn't give them what he wanted to give them ... but what they wanted to have ... and what the people around them had ...

Maybe this story is about true, explicit, in-your-face idolatry ...

 

                And sometimes, that's us too ...

Sometimes, the god we really worship, the god we bow down to serve ... isn't the real God ...

Sometimes, the god we really worship in our daily lives is our own convenience ...

Sometimes, maybe our real god is money ... or material things ... or status ... or power ... or pleasure ... or appearances ...

Maybe the god we really worship sometimes is a god called "Me!"

That's the god that gets our precious time ... our precious attention ...

That's the god that we're spending all our energy on.

And that too would be true, explicit, in-your-face idolatry ...

And it's sin.

And sometimes it's us.

 

                But the Good News that we hear from Jesus today is that Almighty God loves sinners.

Our God is crazy for the sinners ... eager for them to repent.

... He's like a crazy shepherd who would leave 99 sheep in the desert to save just one stray ...

... Our God is like an "over the top" woman who would sweep her whole house from top to bottom to find one sinner ... and then have a party over one sinner who has repented .

... God and all of his angels in heaven rejoice ... they rejoice (as if they have nothing better to do) ... when just one of those sinners ... among the billions of us ... when just one of us repents .

 

                And so, today, let's get the party started up in heaven.

Let's get those angels hootin' and hollerin' up there in heaven.

Let's repent of our idolatry ... whether that's the idolatry of trying to make our great God a "manageable god" rather than a God whom we simply trust... or whether it's the idolatry of putting some other god (maybe the one named ME) before the one and only True God.

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