Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24 - 12th Sunday in Ordinary time Cycle C - June 19, 2016
“Jesus asks the disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter replied, ‘The Christ of God.’ Jesus rebuked them, telling them not to tell anyone”. I always wondered why Jesus rebuked the disciples after giving such a good answer to his question. In one of my readings for this day the author said it might have been because the disciples, and certainly the people, had the idea that the Messiah would be a warrior king, able to liberate them from Roman control. Jesus did not want this spread about since he was not, nor would he be, a warrior king. He was much more than that.
This same question is posed to us today. “Who do YOU say that I am?’ What would be our answer?
Jesus was a free, whole person, one with God. Jesus was free to be who he was, Son of God, Son of Mary. In being who he was, Jesus was able to accept all people as equals, as who they were. Jesus was free to know that no one could make him other than who he was, not even death on the cross. We are all called to become who we are, which takes a lifetime.
Paul, in the second reading, says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free person, male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If we are all one in Christ Jesus we can be free to know all people as equals.
As I was listening to the reports of the latest killings in Orlando, Florida, I wondered who Paul might have included in his list if he were here today. Perhaps, there is neither black nor white, straight nor LGBTQ people, Muslim nor Christian, rich nor poor, immigrant nor native born, child nor adult, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
Bishop Robert Lynch from St. Petersburg, Florida, wrote this on his blog. “These women and men who were mowed down Sunday were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that.”
We have a long way to go before this reality, of all are one, becomes the norm for us as Christians and as human beings.
Bishop Lynch goes on to say, “Sadly it is religion, including our own, that targets, mostly verbally, and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.”
This is not the way of Jesus.
Throughout the ages there have been mystics in every religion; The Hindu poet Tagore, Islamic poets Rumi and Rabia Basri, Chief Joseph, a Nez Perce Native American, the Buddha, Jewish Moses and Miriam, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Buber, Christians Mary Magdalene, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Edith Stein, who know the depth of God, who are one with God, who have come to know this truth, that we are all one, deserving of respect, tolerance and love.
All mystics come to know – deep down in their very souls – we are all one since we are all created by the same God who continuously leads us to God’s heart, and to our own hearts, so we can live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God, in the knowing that all people are one and equal.
A prayer from the Cherokee says: “O Great Spirit, who made all races, look kindly upon the whole human family, and take away the arrogance and hatred which separates us from our brothers (and sisters).”
Sometimes it is hard to believe this oneness when people kill and maim, torture and oppress. Yet we are called to live in that oneness. It is why love is so important, because it is only through the path of love that we can become free enough to grow into who we are and let others grow into who they are.
We need to help each other in that growth for sometimes we take paths that do not lead to freedom or equality but lead to destruction like what happened in Orlando, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Paris, Boston, San Bernardino, Roseburg.
So continue to grow in your relationship with God, with Jesus, with others, with yourself. Continue to forgive those who do not yet know who they really are and so destroy instead of build up.
Continue to work so God’s peace, love, justice and communion become a reality. We do this through prayer and through community. Together we help each other grow and bring forth God’s creation, God’s kin-dom here on earth.
With Jesus at your side, continue to grow. Grow into becoming one with all people, with creation, with God. Grow into who you are.