ALL ARE WELCOME: Deacon Lyn's Homily Sept. 30, 2018
Outside a church in Cape Town South Africa Billboard – had the following that speaks to Welcoming All people.
Today we welcome all present! We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, confused, filthy rich, comfortable or dirt poor. A special welcome to walling babies and excited toddlers. We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or growl quietly to yourself. You are welcome here if you just woke up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the pope or that you have not been to church in ten years. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60, but not yet grown up and to teenagers who have grown up to fast. We welcome over-weight moms, football dads, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, especially junk food eaters. We welcome those in recovery, & those still addicted. We welcome those who are having problems and those who are not. We welcome those who think the earth is flat, those who work too hard, those who don’t work at all, those who can’t spell & those who are here simply because grandmother came to visit you. We welcome those who are linked, pierced both or neither. We welcome those who could use a prayer right now. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, doubters, seekers, and we welcome you as our sign reads at the bottom of the hill “All are Welcome!”
Today’s Scripture readings acknowledges that God welcomes all people to be part of the kingdom without making distinctions among groups, races, or nationalities.
The first reading, God bestowed the spirit on Moses and the elders and they begin to prophesy. Eldad and Medad were not present with the others but they also received the spirit and began to prophesy. One young man complained to Moses that the two outsiders should not be prophesying. Moses rejected this complaint because he believed in inclusiveness and no one should be left out of the benefits of God’s spirit.
In the second reading, James criticizes those who have become wealthy by taking advantage of others. James leaves us with the presumption that God will carry out appropriate justice toward them.
In the Gospel, as in the First Reading, John comes to Jesus to complain that someone who was not a member of the disciples was expelling demons in the name of Jesus. Jesus makes it clear that he has no problem with this and makes no distinction between “outsiders” and “insiders”. Jesus makes a strong statement that he would only have a problem with those who would harm the faith of others.
It is very clear in all of the readings for this Sunday that Jesus’ call for his disciples to spread the good news is a universal call and is not contingent on Membership in a certain group, social class, or race and he welcomes all into the Kingdom!
Don’t know about you this can be a bit of a challenge to say “All are Welcome” Especially in our current cultural climate that we live in.
Yet How are we to understand and evaluate this as Catholic Christian followers of Jesus? What do we use as a moral compass?
It is not what but who. It is the leader of our Church. Jesus. He said it himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the Light.”
So if we follow Jesus then we are to Think like Jesus, Act like Jesus, Talk like Jesus.A friend and I had a conversation about this exact thing. If we are to think like Jesus, act like Jesus, talk like Jesus then what are some on his characteristics so we can be like Jesus. Compassionate, told parables, forgiveness, Non-violent, inclusive.
How we come to this understanding as it isn’t spelled out in scripture. Much like the early followers of Jesus did through Prayer, fasting, actions.
Prayer- is conversation, if you what to know someone you have conversation with them. So since Jesus is the leader of our church, the one we follow & the one we communicate with then our communication methods grow and change as we do. This weeks adult faith formation session we discussed prayer. As a group shared that it was through our prayer life we got to know Jesus better & over time couldn’t do without prayer (conversation) with the Lord, as a result fell in love with Jesus. We shared realized that this relationship through prayer help us deal with challenges/difficulties of life. It also prepared them ahead of time. It was like they had a bank a reserve to draw from to handle the tuff stuff of life.
Fasting – from many things is a way of clearing yourself or creating a space to allow the creator of the universe space in your life. So that you can be who God has created you to be. God has a purpose for your life. Don’t waste it.
Actions – Understanding that Jesus was forgiving, compassionate, non-violent & inclusive. We are call to do the same in our lives.
With the use of Prayer, fasting & actions people will know and see “All are Welcome here!” because we are doing with the Lord did and it was Good.