Homily Notes: Like Politics, Salvation is Local

Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38, 19:27-30
Like Politics, Salvation is Loval

The Problem:

How do we reconcile the Gospel that we have just heard – a very demanding call that we give up everything and take up our cross – with something Jesus says just in the very next chapter;

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

How is this yoke easy? How is the burden of living in this world light?

  • Does He not see what is happening? The pain? The suffering? The hatred?
  • Does He not know that the entire creation groans in agony?
  • Does He not see how things have become so complicated and so tangled that we just cannot unravel it? That when we put our efforts into fixing one problem a dozen more take its place. That even our political system – the best that has ever been – seems powerless to make a difference?

Lord, we believe You, but help us in our unbelief!

The Answer:

Of course God knows – He knows and experiences it more deeply than we can imagine.

  • It was for this reason that He sent His son, the one who came not to judge the world but to save it.
  • It was for this reason that He established this Church, so that we could bring that same healing and salvation to all of His suffering children.
  • It was for this reason – the spreading of peace, and mercy and love – that we were put on this earth.

We get so wrapped up in our own heads that we forget who we are and what it is we were put here to do. The lesson today – like so much of the things we are called to do as Orthodox Christians – was designed to remind us who we are and what tools God has given us to spread His love.

  • Are politics important? Yes, but not as important as bringing peace and joy and sanity into our own lives and the lives of the people around us; and yet we continue to define ourselves not by our love and how we serve those closest to us, but by which fallen politician, party, or cause we have chosen!
  • I know people with troubled minds and troubled families that know more about the strengths and weakness of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton than they do their own selves, their children, and their neighbors.

The yoke is easy because we don’t have to have an answer for every single problem (we do our best, we try to get better, and we go to confession when we mess things up). The burden is light because God has given us everything we need to find and spread peace and perfection.

  • I don’t know what kind of policies will best stop Islamist jihadists and terrorists; I spent several years of my life trying to … and it amounted to nothing. But I do know what happens when I love the people I meet – even those who hate me – every day. I have seen hatred melt and hearts grown cold find new life.
  • I don’t know what kind of policies will stop the heroin epidemic that is doing so much damage here in the Lehigh Valley, but I do know that I am called to support every person and family that is struggling with addiction; a task that is well within my power.
  • I don’t know what kind of policies can help reverse the decline in marriage, but I do know that by nurturing my own family I help provide an example to men who need it and that by offering encouragement to couples as they struggle I can make a real difference.

When God established His Church and told His disciples how they should serve Him, He didn’t say much about government and laws. He gave us two commandments, neither of which has anything to do with Caesar and everything to do with our own personal calling and responsibility.

What must we do in this broken and suffering world? How can we help? What light yoke must we commit to? What light burden must we carry?

Love Him, love His children. Ease their pain. Comfort them.

And know this: it is the love and the comfort and the mercy that last forever – all suffering, sorrow, and pain are passing away. Darkness has no place in an eternal kingdom ruled by light. And as He promises in today’s Gospel, all who spread His love in this broken world are heirs of that kingdom and destined to rule it with Him.