Sunday, September 07, 2008

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts
We live in an age which simply throws things away.
Yesterday I went to a place called Sonic.
And when my Southwest salad was brought to our picnic table
it was in a plastic bag in a plastic bowl with a plastic cover and plastic silverware…

I loved the salad but felt guilty the whole time eating it because my plastic meal will be an a landfill long after I’m dead…

We are a culture which finds it easy to throw things away

And sadly, pitifully it is just as often we find it easy to throw people away
We dismiss them
Or discount them or give up on them
Or put them in little boxes with as we judge them
He’s this or she’s that.

We don’t care enough to invest in people especially people with problems
or who just don’t seem to get it.
Or people in trouble.

Ezekiel was called by God
He was given an important task
He was called to be a watchman or a prophet

That’s what a prophet does he watches and warns
Ezekiel was called to be a prophet for all of Israel

He was to watch and warn them if they became unfaithful to the covenant unfaithful to God

A good watchman stays alert
A good watchmen doesn’t run and hide or think of himself when danger comes
A good watchman faces the threat, faces adversity

And God’s message to Ezekiel is clear
If you fail to fulfill your task as watchman
If you fail to warn someone
You will be held responsible for that person’s death

If we care enough to get involved when a person is in danger
If you try to warn them to reach out to them
Then you are not responsible for their sin.

When God calls Ezekiel Son of Man he is not using it in the same way that it was used about Jesus (in an eschatological sense)

Ezekiel is call Son of Man because he is a human
And by calling him human God is reminding us that
All of us are called to be prophets
All of us are called to be watchmen for each other

The Gospel also talks about the importance of being prophetic in people’s lives

It reminds us of our responsibility….
To care for each other to be watchmen

All of us are called to be Watch people if you will
for each other.

The Gospel reminds us that we are all responsible for each other PERIOD

It lays out a very concrete 4 step process by which we will be held accountable.

It doesn’t just tell us correct each other
But rather it tells us how we are to go about it.

Reaching out to someone
Correcting them is not an easy process and demands a lot of love but….
When a person is walking down the wrong road
When a person hurts us and in the same moment is really hurting themselves
We cant walk away
We can’t refuse to get involved

To do so would be like a watchman who refuses to fulfill his/her duty
To do so is to take the easy way out

And so what are we supposed to do
When someone is walking down the wrong road

First we have to go to them privately
We must first speak to them one on one

Talk to them calmly without anger…

We have to be careful because even if the message might be right
the way we deliver it might be wrong and then we lose that person

That’s huge….

Next if it doesn’t work.. we need to bring some other equally concerned people with us.

Let them listen to us
Let them see if maybe we got it wrong

And if they agree then love demands that we return again

Calmly try and help that person see their error
If there is some kind of block between you and the person error maybe having a few others there will help

If that doesn’t work
Only then does the person’s error become public
Only then should anyone know
bring them to the church everyone who cares for that person should get involved.

And if even that doesn’t work

Then we cut our ties not because we give up on them
but in the hope that this radical step will call them back to health
Will call them back to god’s will
Will call them back to love

I would venture to say that this not wanting to get involved
This code of silence which is usually easy way out
Is by far our greatest sin on this campus
It is not sex
It is not drinking or cheating
It is not gossip

Our greatest sin is not caring or not caring enough

Our greatest sin is throwning people away like I threw away my plastic dinner

If we aren’t the ones throwing someone away then ….
We do nothing to stop them from throwing themselves away

We fail because we don’t want to bother
We fail because we have already dismissed that person as a looser
We fail because we went about it in the wrong way
We fail because we refuse to forgive
We fail because we are self-rightous and think we better

We fail over and over and over again.

We don’t want Catholic to be a police state everyone reporting on everyone else

I don’t want a university of people telling on each other…

He did this
She did that

That’s not what the Gospel wants.

If we love enough then we should rarely have to get to public phase of the fraternal correction

When should this correction happen ?
It should happen at night when two roommates are falling asleep
It should happen in the privacy of personal conversation
It should happen in small groups of people who call themselves friends
It should happen in ways that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the real motivation is care and concern

My heart breaks
When someone hurts themselves
Or fails out
Or medicates themselves continually with alcohol or drugs
Or whatever
No one cared enough to do anything
and by the time it comes to light it is simply too late

We need to step up and be the prophets that God has called us all to be
We need to love without counting the cost

Never give up on a person
Never take the easy way out
If we do then God remember what God said to Ezekiel

We to will be held accountable for their sins

We all of us need to do better on this.
We need to love more

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