Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Goldsboro, NC, 22 Oct. 2017, Proper 24
Year A RCL: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22
Notice how people in our scriptures today talk about details. Leaders challenge Jesus for details. Paul speaks of specifics in the experiences of the Thessalonians. Moses wants a specific assurance from God.
We humans usually feel more comfortable making decisions & moving forward when we know details & understand facts.
Notice how Matthew, the former tax man, writes about paying taxes – his area of expertise. Notice Moses wants specifics from God so he can feel confident moving forward & boldly reminds God the people are God's people; he's been the intermediary.
The Jewish Study Bible notes1, Moses “seeks total familiarity with God” & is ready to have the people have access to God instead of just through Moses.
Notice specifics we read in Exodus: God agrees Moses can see his glory, but not God's face. God tells Moses “I will cover you with my hand”, & then Moses can see God's back.
We know what hands & backs look like. We can understand something of what Moses expects. Unlike when our scriptures challenge our understanding, we understand physical realities.
If we were to share an Oct 11 news article1 with Moses, Paul & the Thessalonians, & the disciples with Jesus, how well do you think they would understand the details? [Put aside difference between English & the language of their eras.]
The article speaks of a hand, the arm moving, the hand at the opposite end of the arm. How well will they understand this “body language”? [Yes, pretty well.]
What if we share the part in the article about a walk & working smoothly? [Yes. People then know about walking & work going smoothly,]
What about a lube job, grease gun & caulking gun? [Ah, Difficult.]
What if we read the part about a new hand being attached to the robot's arm to grab cargo arriving for astronauts orbiting in the International Space Station?
We understand space age realities.
How much do we grasp of
God's expansive Love?
Like people with Jesus, Paul & Moses, we can grasp just so much. There are wonders in God's world & God's Love beyond our grasp. Through God's grace we can embrace what we cannot understand & live by faith, trusting God's Love.
We see God's Love active among us. We see God as we cook up Love in our kitchen, tend our grounds, minister to all sorts & conditions of people here, at the Soup Kitchen & beyond.
Just as paying taxes isn't the real issue in our Gospel, the issue in our lives is how much we live in God's Love.
The Bible tells us: God creates us in God's image. The Holy Trinity is a Holy Unity. We are made in the image of Holy Unity.
Through God's grace we encounter this Mystery & declare our faith in this Mystery. Week by week we proclaim our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed. We walk by faith, not by sight.
We give to God the things that are God's: we give ourselves.
We may at times feel robotic reciting what we believe. We may feel “programmed” to act or respond as we do. Despite how we feel, you/we can't hide our identity as a child/as children of God, a reflection of perfect Love.
You are a reflection of God's Love.
Embrace this truth!
Live & grow into it.
YOU belong to God!
YOU shine forth God's Love which
is in you.
Dios Habla Hoy: La Biblia. 2da Ed. Nueva York: Sociedad Bíblica Americana. 1983.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary. Gen. Ed: Paul J. Achtemeier. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1985.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
“Kids Pay Taxes Too!” http://www.sermons4kids.com// Accessed: 19 Oct. 2017.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
The New Complete Works of Josephus. Revised and Expanded Edition. Translator: William Whiston. Commentator: Paul L. Maier. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. 1999.
"Spacewalkers grease robot arm's new hand". The Associated Press. Goldsboro News-Argus. 11 Oct. 2015. P. 5
1 Jewish Study Bible. P. 188.
2. "Spacewalkers grease robot arm's new hand". The Associated Press. Goldsboro News-Argus. 11 Oct. 2015. P. 5