Fr. Randy Rogers
The Democracy of the dead still prevails.
It prevails, because they are not actually dead, like in having no state of existence.
People in general are scared to death about death. To my knowledge we are the only species in creation that is well aware of the reality of our own passing long before it comes. We know we are finite creatures of a given life span; 70 years, 80 for those who are strong?
Why do we tippy toe around it so much? Why on earth do we always seem so surprised by its coming? In many ways we of course are sad that we are going to miss our friend or relative who has passed, but on the other hand we should be celebrating for their sake. They are with Christ Jesus in the presence of God the Father and filled with the Holy Spirit in a way we cannot yet imagine.
Largely this is a matter of lack of perspective. In this selection from Romans today St. Paul is trying to give us some proper Christian perspective.
Who will separate us from the Love of Christ? Not hardship, not distress, not governments, not the sword, and sure not this damnable pandemic. We survived the Black Death and Genghis Khan so I do not think this virus is going to be humanities final salvo. For goodness sakes the Church has survived nearly 20 centuries of its Clergy, this virus looks survivable in light of that rapacious mob and their antics.
The promises of Christ Jesus are very real. The trick is for us live our lives like they are real. Do you remember your first little compline prayer you learned? “Now I lay me down to sleep, I give the Lord my soul to keep, and if I die before I wake, I give the Lord my soul to take.” It really is a beautiful little prayer to help us keep a little bit of perspective on what Christ is in our lives.
This trust in the promises of Christ conveyed to us in the words of Romans today should really give Christians a terrific sense of freedom. It is not just a license to do whatever strikes my fancy, because Christ is going to deliver on his promises anyway, so what I do makes no difference. It is a little different than that.
The line of thought should run something like. In light of the fact of the promises of Christ concerning my soul I now find a profound peace and freedom living according to the teachings of Christ, and feel compelled to conform my life to being as much like him as I can possibly be. I will participate in the salvation offered by Christ by being such as I was created to be in his likeliness.
This leads us to our Gospel today from Mathew. Now if you have not caught on by now what this story is about you soon will.
Take, Bless, Break, Give. Anywhere you see these four works in this order it means only one thing. Eucharist. The Eucharist was just about the first thing the Christian community established as regular order in its communities. Here we have the High priest himself showing us how to do it. This whole story is written through the lens of Christian practice of the day.
In our imitation of Christ, we see key precepts demonstrated. He had compassion and cured them. He took what he had and fed them. He looks up to heaven and gives proper respect for God his father, and he gives to the people what they need in that present moment.
Have you ever found that when you conduct an act of charity, or do something decent for somebody that you often get more out of it that the intended recipient? It is not an absolute, but sometimes. It’s funny that they started out with a few fish and loaves, fed thousands of people, and twelve baskets of leftovers show back up with the twelve Apostles. If we could conduct our selves as a Church such as Christ does here I wonder what would show up? I do think we do in many measures, and that is why this little parish does as well as it does, but the challenge to do better is always out there.
Over the coming week I am going to give you a project. I want you to read these selections of Scripture we read today from Romans, and from St. Matthew. Just sit and think about them for a few minutes. Then do something that shows the whole world how profoundly grateful and happy you are for Christ Jesus and all that he means. I want you not to think about the Pandemic. Grab a friend, spouse, whoever and dance! Sing your favorite song while playing the air guitar. Buy some stranger lunch. Do something that shows the world you are not whipped, and your Christian hope is still alive and well.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. No sir. Because he did not ever leave me. He is right here. Amen.