No laughing matter.
The first lesson for today from Genesis 18, recalls the story of Abraham and Sarah receiving the promise of a male heir even at their advanced age. In overhearing the news, Sarah laughed to herself. Now, Sarah’s laugh was not the laugh of happiness or the joyful giggling of a child in hearing about a present. In fact, it was in jest, or even a smirk. “An old woman like me? With this old man of a husband?” And one could almost hear her turning around and saying, “Give me break!”
Let us be fair to Sarah. She had good reasons for not taking seriously the news. Like, Mary, she may have thought, “How this could possibly be?” For, there were no real signs that she could have a child at her age.
Our second lesson from the gospel of Matthew, recalls the recruiting and commissioning of our Lord’s first apostles. And “as you go along, share the good news that the Kingdom has come near,” (10:7).
Now, together with the disciples, it would be fair to ask, “How could this be?” Look around – Conflicts and wars, famines, peoples were enslaved, ravaging sickness, divisions of class, cultures, and nations, a world where dog eats dog. That was then. Is it any different from today? Would be out of place to hear someone saying, “Give me a break!” or even smirk at the so-called “Good News?”
Indeed, laughing would not be completely out of order unless we realize it is God – and not a politician, a revolutionary or a wishful-thinker who is announcing a new agenda.
It is interesting to note that Jesus did not announce that there would be no more sickness or hunger, or divisions. He rather says, “Go and heal… lift up… touch the untouchable… crush the works of the Evil One.”
Jesus signals that a new reality has dawned in creation – The kingdom and the Law of Christ now reigns supreme and even the power of death has been destroyed. A kingdom that has no boundaries of languages, races, geography, identity and everything that separates humankind. A kingdom that first and foremost manifests itself in us – “The kingdom is in you,” (Luke 17:20).
Whenever we abide by the Law of Christ, “Place the love of God first in your heart, mind, and soul, and the love of neighbor before yourself,” the new reality of the reign of Christ is made true and visible.
Whenever we heal the broken-hearted, whenever we lift up those who have been side-lined, whenever the work for peace and whenever we seek reconciliation with those who do not think, pray, or look like us, the kingdom is made real.
Whenever we struggle to cancel out the forces that divide us, whenever we stop arguing “our” truth against the experience of others, and whenever we realize that not even one deserves anything from God, other than by mercy, grace, and love, the bright sun of God’s presence and the power of the Spirit will be revealed in our midst.
Whenever we work to bring together those who like us have been called into the family of God, and whenever we turn our backs to the voices of hatred, division, and animosity, and whenever we extend our hands to embrace those who once were estranged from us, there is where heaven will pour blessings, joy, and peace.
As a priest in the church, this is my commitment to He who called me to tend the flock of Christ in Aylett. There is no other more urgent prayer and no other higher priority than to make real in my life, and in the life as those who can read or hear these words than the words our Savior taught us, “Thy kingdom come.”
Would you say “Amen” with me?