23 January 2013

Today's Chapel Homily

on the fourth commandment, based on Luke 2:41ff.:

Mary in her love for Him had been terrified—what parent wouldn’t be? A teen vanished for days. Three days actually. Hmm. Jesus disappearing for three days and then showing up again. Interesting, no? But they looked high and low until at last they come upon him, sitting in the temple, listening, asking questions, discussing God’s holy Torah. And Mary is beside herself. Maybe that’s why she said it, but He doesn’t let it pass.

“Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”

Your father. But note His reply:  “Why were looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in MY Father’s house?” He was living the truth of the Psalm: "Better is a day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere."

Ouch. Joseph, beloved man that he was to our Lord, was NOT His Father and our Lord had no intention of letting Mary or Joseph forget it. Where else would you think I would be? Jesus asks. My Father has a house. I’m here in it. And did Mary’s heart rise up in fear and foreboding as she thought of how her Son chose to abide in that place of sacrifice, that place of death.

And yet look! The Son of the Father, the Eternal Word who was before time began, He does His Father’s will and that will is that human beings honor their fathers and their mothers. So we are told: “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.”

You think of that! You do not like for anyone to tell you what to do, or to be accountable or beholding to anyone. You to whom the word “submissive” is a dirty word, one that shows you’re not somebody, not important, and so you hate the word, the idea of being under and obedient to anyone else. Yet Jesus, your Lord, would open your eyes to see a whole new way of living and of being.

Being submissive to those in authority over you, your parents and even the people you work for here in this building, is precisely NOT something for you to resent or hate or dread. It is rather something for you to embrace with joy. Think of how this place would hum along if we entered into the mind of our Lord on this one and did not despise (think little) of our parents and other authorities, but instead honored them, served and obeyed them, yes even loved and cherished them. “Well, they don’t deserve that” you think in the corner of your mind. Hmm. Did Mary and Joseph deserve to have the Son of God submissive to them? I think not. But He wasn’t submissive because they deserved it, but because He knew the Torah, the revealed will and plan of God.

His obedience and love to His heavenly Father never ceased and so His honoring of his mother does not cease. Even as He is hanging on Calvary’s tree bearing the load of all our sin, including our despising of those in authority over us, He is providing for His mother a home with John, the beloved disciple. Even in his death’s agony He is obeying the fourth commandment, and doing so for you. For all the times you have failed. He is shedding His blood to cover them all over in the sight of His Father, and His very blood invites you too to join Him in the venture of submission. To recognize God Himself hidden in His majesty under the lowly appearance of those set over you to honor, serve, obey, love, and cherish. God grant it!

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