Readings: Isaiah 5:1-7, Philippians 3:4b-14, Matthew 21:33-46
In these few weeks, the world has been wrought with violence. And the question of where is God’s kingdom, is not far from our lips. When natural disasters are pummeling and displacing so many people, have we helped to bring God’s kingdom? When wars and genocide still happen, and threats are routinely traded between nations, when we continue to have high and escalating rates of gun violence in the streets of this country, where are we, as a church, participating in God’s kingdom?
Whenever St. Paul examines himself he finds himself a sinner. All the good, righteous, religious stuff that he has done, when he searches himself he finds it all to be “rubbish”. It’s meaningless because it cannot do what Christ has done for us. It is Jesus Christ alone who relentlessly comes to us and knows us. It is Christ alone who loves us so completely that he would take on flesh to be revealed to us, that he would take up a cross, going even to death for us. From literally life to death and back life, going to hell and back to be with us, Jesus relentlessly comes to know and love us. And all for no other reason than:
God loves you. Not for anything you did, but because you are God’s.
In Christ, we are totally free. But our freedom is not our own. It is for our neighbor. It is for relationship with God and one another. Our salvation does not depend on our helping Puerto Rico, or Mexico City after hurricanes and earthquakes. It doesn’t depend on fixing wasteful and polluting methods of consumption. It doesn’t depend on our talking to lawmakers to make America a better, safer, and more loving and accepting place. Our salvation doesn’t depend on any of that, but it might be that some else’s life today, or tomorrow, does.
Our good lives are nothing in light of what Christ has done for us, loving us to death and back unconditionally and freely, but neither are our good works, deeds, and lives for us. They are for our neighbors. They are our participation in God’s kingdom here.
In the face of violence, the Christian response is to continue loving the best we can, and with all we’ve got. And thank God that we have Christ, or rather He’s got us, because he is the only one who has conquered death, and from it has brought life. Christ alone, God’s word alone, has the power to transform our lives to bear good grapes in his vineyard.
When we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” we pray that we might be instruments in God's kingdom coming to this world, and to our neighbors.