Homily for Twentieth Sunday OT

Making decisions is hard. We all have to make them. Making good decisions is even harder. The only way we can figure out if we have made the right decision is to see what happens after we make it and begin to live with the consequences, both good and bad.

A decision is not the same thing as a choice. A choice is made, usually between this or that. A decision requires thought, deliberation, and insight into the situation in front of us. And faith.

We also have to be brave. Choices can be undone or changed quickly. Decisions usually involve an outcome that touches the very being of others around us, and once passed on to others, is hard to take away.

When I was a little boy, I told a lie. I don’t even remember what it was. But it was one of those “Just you wait until your Father gets home” lies. The crazy thing, as I remember, is that I knew I was going to tell a lie, and I knew that everyone would know it was a lie. But I told it anyway. I made a choice to lie or not. And when Dad got home I knew I was going to get spanked. You could still discipline kids
that way back then…

So I made another choice, to put books inside the back of my pants or to bravely face whatever was going to happen. Well, I chose the books! When my Dad turned me on his knee he couldn’t even spank me because he was laughing so hard… like I thought he would never notice them there! I got sent to my room (you could still do that too…!)

We later talked about right and wrong, truth and lies, and the fact that people are pretty smart when it comes to knowing the truth. Even when the truth is a hard thing to take.

As we grow we learn that simple choices are always more complicated than they seem. When we start to think about how our actions will affect others, we begin to discern, to move out of that place where we only think of ourselves and begin to see that the world is filled with other people who are navigating right and wrong, truth and lies; people that affect us by their actions, and people who will
be effected by ours.

This is the beginning of discernment, the beginning of Wisdom, which helps us make good decisions, even if they put us at a disadvantage. When we choose to pass the good onto other people, because it is the right thing to do. Often there is a cost to pay when we do the right thing, at times a suffering we must endure, a risk we must take, and if we have faith that God will take care of all things in the end, there is always a lesson to be learned.

Jeremiah suffered from being lowered into a muddy cistern, simply by telling the people the truth; that is, without God in their lives, life as prisoners of the Babylonians might be preferable to an empty heart and reliance only on self.

St. Paul is writing to a community that has begun to question the truth of the resurrection. He says truth is like running a race toward the finish line where Christ himself stands. There are those who have made the decision to run therace, and those who simply want to choose between human ways rather than God’s word.

Luke knows that God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, had been looking for a way to put a world that had fallen apart, back into a Kingdom where you and I will not shy away from His kind of Peace. Jeremiah, up to his knees in mud can only look up from his dark place. And when he looks up he sees the blue sky of the Kingdom.

Paul in Hebrews asks us not to cling to sin, but to stick to goodness. And this becomes and easy task as we see we are not alone in the race but are cheered on by a cloud of witnesses running with us to the finish line.

Jesus wants the world to be on fire, to start a blaze that will inflame people with the good news. The good news, the truth, the Kingdom can’t be a part of our lives unless our faith sets the world on fire. We will find division for sure, but that’s okay, as long as we keep the dialogue open and flowing free. We aren’t always right.

Our actions will determine if that division is permanent or temporary. People will see us on fire with the Lord and they can say “Wow! If that’s what being a Christian is all about then I want to be one! Or people might see us and say “Wow, if that’s what being a Christian is all about, then I want nothing to do with it.”

Today we made a choice to come to Church or not. The decisions we make when we go out that door, are the things that take us from the muddy pit to light, give us courage to run the race, even if at the finish line awaits the Cross, and that being a disciple allows us to face our great and necessary mission, to set the world on fire with Spirit and truth.`