Instant Karma

St. David’s Church, Aylett

February 17, 2019 – Epiphany VI

What is “Instant Karma?”  It is a swift and intense negative reaction in someone’s life after he or she does something mean to others, it is extremely selfish, or with absolute disregard to someone else’s safety, welfare or feelings.

Let me share one example. Elizabeth and I were driving south on I95 – bumper to bumper. Near Woodbridge four lanes turn into three. And as we were crawling in traffic, there were cars trying to merge from the furthermost right lane into the third lane. But then we noticed this SUV going around those who were trying to merge trying all the time to but in into the third lane. To no one surprise, no one gave the driver even one inch. And so, it continued for a while. Close to the bridge, when the driver had not any other chance to merge, he just put his car right in front of a small car, that had to screech to stop to let the bully in. But then, to everyone surprise, on the second lane, just parallel to this small car that had been pushed back, there was a black, large Suburban who suddenly became all lit with red and blue lights and went right after the intruder. Over all the din of cars revving up, you could hear a loud cheer! Instant Karma.

Now, let me say that there are times when we may have been a little naughty or selfish, or even mean, and it may be almost natural to expect some “Instant Karma” to come our way.

But then, there are times when life is outright unfair and biased or filled with bad memories from our childhood, workplace, or college. Perhaps one may have gone through an ugly family fight or, unexpectedly, one is let go from the job one had hoped to retire in its own good time.

Sometimes, one may go through life as if expecting even more bad karma to be poured in into one’s life. Sometimes people go through life grieving because they are not tall enough to play basketball, or they don’t come from the “right” family, or they were born with a disability or they don’t have what they believe are the “right” looks.

And so, they wonder, “What I have done to deserve this in my life?  Where all this bad karma is coming from?” “Why God is sending this bad stuff into my life or why did He allow all this to happen to me?” And so, they turn their back to good friends, family, church, and even to God.

Is God up there with a big fly-swat ready to smack those who don’t toe the line? Is God a God of “eye for an eye” or is a God full of grace, mercy, and love, willing to come down to our level – where we are – to heal us all?

Is God like an Olympian god, ready to strike mortals with his thunderbolts, or someone who even after a long and tiring journey seats among the poor, the destitute and the exploited to comfort and to heal them?

The good news of the gospel we proclaim is that Jesus doesn’t believe in bad karma, instant or otherwise. Rather, Jesus is God coming down to earth, from his realm of glory to sit by us, to hear about our plight, to bless and to heal us.

This is clearly illustrated for us in today’s Gospel. Jesus does not rule from an ivory tower telling people what to do. Jesus does not lay down the law and leaves people hung up to dry.

 

The Rev. Dr. Renita Weems – a Hebrew Bible theologian, pastor, and author, remarks that Jesus is willing to surround himself with “people with very little to offer beyond their enthusiasm and their devotion.” And for them, “It must have been a moment fraught with possibility and hope, even for those who have felt hopeless and abandoned.” And Jesus tells them, “Blessed are you…” And whenever we approach him, he will tell us, blessed are you.

 

Blessed are you even when life has not been fair to you. Blessed are you even when the hand you have been dealt in life will set you way behind the last one. Blessed are you not because you suffer in life for no reason, but rather because if anyone knows about “bad karma,” is Jesus. So, he not only understands where one is in life, but even more, because He has seen it all he can empathize with us.

 

Betrayed by one of his friends and abandoned by others. Cheered by throngs that in the next breath call for his death. Left to die by himself, under a heaven that appears to have shut its door to his plight. Yes, Jesus literally has gone through hell – but he has come back.

 

And so, blessed are you that Jesus is willing to sit down with you and hear about your plight. Blessed are you for even when no one appears to be willing to hear about your pains or sorrows, for Jesus allows his power to flow into any grieving soul.

 

You know, I love Jesus. Not only for theological reasons, or because He is my Lord and Savior! I love him because even when we deserve it, he doesn’t come around to finger point us and to say, “I told you so.”  Or to ask as if we didn’t know any better.

 

No! Jesus is a God who cries for the loss of a friend or is moved by the generosity of a nameless widow.

 

Jesus is the one who is willing to accept nothing more than our sorrows and our grief and is willing to surround us with his unconditional love and embrace. And further, he is willing to be poured into our lives in the Eucharistic Cup and be broken for us as the Bread of Life.

 

Today we will receive Jesus himself present in His Body and Blood. We will not receive one tenth of one percent of Jesus in one little crumb. In each piece of Holy Bread and in each sip of the Chalice, the plenitude of Christ’s love, grace, and mercy will be lavished on us. For Jesus is not only the Bread of Life, but He is the Bread of Life broken and shared with us and for us.

 

Blessed are you when, even in your sorrows, you allow yourself to be fed, to be cared for, even to be pampered by Him who claims to be your brother, your friend, the Lover of Your Soul. This is even more than good karma. This is God’s blessing! Indeed, this is the good news of God’s love made manifest in the here and now.

 

Fr. Gustavo