Pentecost +3 – God is Faithful despite our faithlessness
a homily by Mother Beth
The First Reading from Genesis 21:8-21
8The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.9But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. 10So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” 11The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. 12But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. 13As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” 14So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. 15When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. 16Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” 19Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. 20God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. 21He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew 10:24-39
24“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! 26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
God is Faithful despite our faithlessness – Homily Pentecost 3
Some problems are of our own making and some are caused by others. Fear can be a great motivator. And when we make decisions based on fear, we are giving in to the problem – we are acknowledging that this thing – this situation is bigger than anything else – that we cannot overcome it or at least that we are not sure that we can overcome it. When God promises something he fulfills his promise – so when God has promised and then we shrink back in fear, we are not trusting God – we are uncertain about whether or not God will make good on his promise.
Sarah had laughed when God said that Abraham would be given a child – She was well beyond child bearing years – this thing that God was promising was completely impossible for humanity to accomplish – there was no natural way for that to happen – a child for Abraham and Sarah would take supernatural intervention – a miracle. So Sarah laughed. But God continued to remind Abraham of the promise – I will make you a great nation – and so Sarah – afraid that it would not come to pass – suggested that Abraham have a child with her servant, Hagar. She had grown tired of waiting for the impossible and began to make decisions out of fear not faith. So Abraham and Hagar have a child named Ishmael and then years later God fulfills his promise and Abraham and Sarah have a child named Isaac (Laughter).
In the Genesis reading for today, Isaac is now a thriving young boy and Sarah sees the two boys together and begins to fear that Ishmael will inherit Isaac’s birthright – perhaps she is afraid of how rough the boys play together or something but she is afraid and she asks that he – the child of the slave girl – be put out of the house/tent – be cast aside.
Abraham is not pleased about this – he is concerned and cares about his son – but God encourages Abraham to go along with Sarah’s request. God assures Abraham that Ishmael will still receive his blessing – he will still prosper because of Abraham. So Abraham has Hagar and Ishmael put out of his home and they are left to fend for themselves.
Once the food and water run out and they call out to God in distress – God responds to the cry of the boy – He provides a well of water for them and God ‘was with the boy” and he became a nation.
Sarah’s fear led to the problem in the first place – she wanted to help Abraham to fulfill God’s promise but when God promises – God fulfills it
Sarah’s fear continued to grow and she grew afraid of the solution to her problem too – Ishmael might actually inherit Isaac’s birthright so she reacts and has Ishmael – who she does not even name – put out.
BUT GOD, makes promises to Abraham and Hagar regarding Ishmael – because God has promised in Genesis 12 that by Abraham will all the nations of the earth be blessed – Ishmael will receive blessing – he will prosper – it is not up to Sarah.
Our mistakes are not as easily set aside or undone as we would like them to be – we think we can just forget about them or move on but there is a price to pay for choices that we make – we must count the cost
And even though Sarah is determined that Isaac and not Ishmael will receive all of God’s blessing from Abraham that is not her decision to make – God makes the decision – God chooses who will be blessed by Him. Although fear was the motivator – God provides. God hears the calls of those in distress and responds.
In the gospel reading for today Jesus warns the disciples about the difficult things that will come to dissuade and discourage them as they live the life of following Him. Three times in this passage he tells them not to fear. In verse 26 he tells them not to fear those who say bad things about you – they said bad things about me and you are not better than I was so – they will say bad things about you too.
In verse 28 he tells them not to fear those who kill the body – reminding them that death of the body is not as important as the death of the soul – not believing is more dangerous than death
In verse 30 – He assures them and us by explaining that He has counted even the hair on your head – He knows them that well /He knows us that well – He values them so do not be afraid. – He is watching out for them.
Then comes the challenge about love and commitment – being more sold out to God than anything or anyone else. We heard in the Old Testament reading about a tough decision that Abraham had to make regarding family and now Jesus challenges the disciples saying that families will be disagreed about faith – that not everyone will agree or be happy that you choose to live a life of faith – some might even be threatened by your choices.
I was raised in a very conservative home During high school when I went to a party and others were drinking, I did not drink. One young man at the party said, “oh! Now I get why you don’t get invited to these things much – it’s not fun to be around someone who isn’t drinking – you make me feel bad about myself.” And it is true that after that I did not get invited to participate in these events – my life choices did not line up with theirs and it was awkward.
Now I realize that any awkward experience that I have had in no way compares with the kind of persecution that Jesus is talking about and thank God that we in North America have freedom of religion so we do not experience what some others around the world – even today experience when they confess that Jesus is Lord. In other countries, people are shunned, disowned by their family and many are killed when they choose to follow Jesus Christ.
But here and now – although we are free to believe – we are often tempted to not be vocal about what we believe or are afraid to be clear about our life choices because others will make fun or not understand or as in my situation – family or friends may choose to not invite you to some things because they know you will not or do not encourage their behavior.
But Jesus says, do not be afraid – I am with you – I care about you.
“Those who find their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”