Sun, 16 December 2018
Homily on St. Luke 18:18-30.
When one first become a soldier, they take away everything: hair, clothes, identification, money. Relationships. Why?
So that The Mission will become our mission.
Can't you just add the mission to what was already there? No. Mercenaries are always unreliable. Their loyalty is based on a calculation. The soldier's is instinctive.
Think of marriage; what happens if the new life as “shared flesh” starts with all the baggage of the old life?
The training of a soldier and the building of a new life in marriage are great metaphors for how to live in Christ. It's not enough to just add the mission of God – virtuous life, evangelism, sacrifice – on top of our old selves. You end up trying to balance these things against everything else. Doing good becomes a calculation rather than a way of life.
As Christ God puts it in St. Matthew (6:24) “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
We empty ourselves of everything we have; this is what allows us to receive everything good He has prepared for us.
This includes our cares:
1 Peter 5:6-7. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your cares and concerns on him, for he cares about you.
Psalm 55:22. Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
But that's not all: creating a new life in Christ is not like playing Go Fish. “I don't want these – you take them.” It's everything. Otherwise our loyalty remains divided. Giving up our cares will make us feel better for a while, but being reborn as a little “g” god – and this is the God's intent – feels better forever. So we can't stop with giving up our anxiety.
It includes our family. Christ's words about this are found in Luke 14:26 and Matthew 10:37. We have to be willing to give up our family.
It includes our money. Today's lesson.
Our very lives. Christ in John 12:25 points out that this need for sacrifice includes our very own lives.
The interpretation of this radical sense of sacrifice; of giving things up; of starting fresh and new is confirmed in our baptismal service in which put do death the old man (in the water) and rise up as a new one in Christ. We have given up our life; but the life we get back – one comprised of the very same skin, bones, heart, and brain – is a better one. It is one that is remade in Christ and pledged to service of God, His children, and His world.
The yoke of the world (slavery to the world) that is oppressive, hard to bear, and leads to death. So we give it up! Give it all up! And then take up the yoke of virtue and righteousness – we take up the yoke of the Lord. And pledged to him and the carrying out of his will, we are no longer slaves or mercenaries whose joy lasts only as long as circumstances allow, but sons and daughters of the living god, deified and divinized through his grace.
This new way is, to quote Christ God “easy and light.”
Matthew 11:29-30. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
So let's not be like the rich man who went away sad. Let's lay everything, our cares and concerns, our family, our riches, even our life itself, at the foot of God.
Those things that are holy and true will be part of our new life in Christ (as He showed us at our baptism); and they will be part of our strength rather than things that potential divide us from God and the carrying out of His will that all become saved. They will become a blessing because they will take on their proper function.