Thursday, June 16, 2016

Proper 6C 2016 Justice


Proper 6C 2016
          In todays collect we prayed, “Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ. . . .”

I invite you this morning to commit yourself again to proclaim God’s truth with boldness and to minister his justice with compassion.

We believe in a creator God who made everything that is, and because he made all things he knows all things. Because God made all things and knows all things God’s justice is perfect. Our knowledge is limited, and our justice is imperfect. Our call is to seek to know God’s just will and do it.

One of the spiritual gifts God gives us is a sense of justice and fairness. We see that particularly in children. Our granddaughters are age 7 and 3, and they are quick to let us know what they think is unfair, particularly to them.

As we mature two things begin to happen, one positive, one negative. We begin to discern fairness and unfairness not only to us but to others – not just personally but also generally. And we begin to be able to evaluate our own words and actions. We ask, “Are we being fair and just to others?”  Jesus summarizes the law and the prophets in both St. Matthew 7 and St. Luke 6, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  That teaching is not unique to Jesus; a version is found in the teachings of all religion and philosophy.  It is the common ethical heritage of all humanity.

But with maturity comes also a negative. We are all incurably self-centered. As we mature and learn how complex life issues are, we use that complexity as a device to screen ourselves from the realities of fairness and justice. We also fall into the great river of Egypt – denial. Our consciences are dulled by our own misbehavior, and we become less sensitive to issues of justice, particularly issues of justice to others. And we also begin to blame others. We find fault with TEAPOT - Those Evil Awful People Over There - TEAPOT are responsible - not us.

God calls us to conversion. We are washed clean in baptism. The Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth and power comes to dwell in us so we may seek to know and to do the true and life-giving will of God. I invite you this morning to commit yourself again to proclaim God’s truth with boldness and to minister his justice with compassion.

In our scripture readings this morning we see God’s justice in great things and small. 

Naboth and Ahab is a story of greed and murder. King Ahab coveted his neighbor Naboth’s vineyard, precious to Naboth as his inheritance.  A major point of biblical justice is security of property. Commandments 6, 7, and 8: “thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not commit adultery.” We have a God-given natural right to security of person, security of property; security of relationships.

But King Ahab’s wife Jezebel was a princess of Sidon in southern Lebanon. She has not been brought up to know God’s will expressed in the Ten Commandments. She wanted a happy husband, and she escalated the injustice from coveting to murder. She persuaded people of the capital to lie about Naboth and to lynch him. Ahab got Naboth’s vineyard, but he did not live long to enjoy it.

Small sins and injustices lead to bigger sins and bigger injustices. Be aware of the small sins and injustices; repent early and often to avoid being led into greater sin and injustice. 

The Pharisee was not just to Jesus. He did not treat him with the respect due a guest; he tempted him by bringing in a “woman of the streets.” (I wonder how he knew where to find her?) She treated Jesus with God’s love and justice. And she went home a forgiven sinner.

St. Paul writes of “gentile sinners.” Like Jezebel, gentiles did not know God’s law. To good Jews gentiles were categorical sinners. But Jesus’ death on the cross brings forgiveness to all sinners – Jews and Gentiles alike.  We are all forgiven sinners, set free by Jesus, and given the Holy Spirit – the spirit of truth to know God’s truth, and the spirit of power to do God’s will.

I invite you this morning to commit yourself again to proclaim God’s truth with boldness and to minister his justice with compassion.

“Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ. . .   Amen.”

 

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