Sunday, May 11, 2014

Economic Justice on Mother's Day

Good Shepherd Sunday
Mother’s Day

This year’s Most Valuable Player award for the National Basketball Association went to the Oklahoma City Thunder star player Kevin Durant. In his acceptance speech on Tuesday night of this week, the six foot nine inch tall forward spoke of his mother as being the real MVP winner behind that award. The big tough guy, stopped to pay tribute to his mom.

She was his Good Shepherd. 

In his own words, this is what he said;
“I think you know what you did,” he said, as the camera cut to his emotionally overcome mom. “You had my brother when you were 18-years-old. Three years later, I came out. The odds were stacked against us. Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21-years-old. Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I had, is when we moved into our first apartment – no bed, no furniture – and we just all sat in the living room and just hugged each other, because we thought we made it.
“And when something good happens to you, I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to look back to what brought me here. And you’d wake me up in the middle of the night in the summer times, making me run up a hill, making me do pushups, screaming at me from the sideline of my games at eight or nine years old. We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. Put clothes on our backs, food on the table. And when you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”

This now brings us to Good Shepherd Sunday, Mother’s Day and the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Here, on this side of the Resurrection, we take note of the sacrifices we make for those we love. They do not end because Jesus rose from the dead, indeed our sacrifices take on new, joyful, generous and abundant dimensions.

He who came into the world so that we might have life in all of its abundance, has become our Good Shepherd. He is the gateway into a way of life that makes of sacrifice our joy and our gratitude. We know what it takes to have children, and send them on their way; it takes everything we have.

But then if you want to give birth to anything worthwhile, you will have to sacrifice a great deal. You may write a book, build a shelter for the homeless, expand a soup kitchen and a food pantry, argue for an inclusive church, or a hundred other things, but you will be giving birth, and making sacrifice to do so.

In this sense you are embracing that abundant life that Jesus came to bring us. The joy and the generosity of Jesus involves great words like forgiveness and repentance, love and compassion, the equally sacrificial and demanding word reconciliation. It is not just his attitude toward us that gives flesh and blood to our redemption, it is our attitude and sacrifice toward one another within which his body shape and substance. 

Those who bring us to the knowledge and love of God may have been our mothers or grandmothers, our dads or grandfathers, our aunts or our uncles, but whoever they were they have become for us a whole constellation of spirits we now come to call the “Communion of Saints”.

They led us to God the Creator, Jesus the Savior, and the Holy Spirit the Holy Wisdom and gift giver from on High. The Holy Trinity then also become an abundant and dynamic community dwelling with and among us.

There is nothing static about discipleship. Like that dazzling new model of the universe expanding over time that the students at MIT have developed, we are an ever evolving and emerging force for good in a world in desperate need of Good News.

It has all happened before time and again. In salvation history it happened to Mary, the Mother of our Lord. May marks her month for our Roman Catholic friends. The angel came to her and informed her that the Holy Spirit would “overshadow” her. 

Please remember she too was a single mother and that Joseph considered sending here away quietly so as not to scandalize everybody, but something or somebody told him in his dreams that this was all God doing the kind of thing that God does.

Mary then discovered a great deal more about God than what was within her as a baby. She discovered a message; a song that sang within her spirit. It is a song we will sing at Evensong in a few short weeks with others members of the Churches of the Collaborative in the Merrimack Valley. We will join and sing with her a song She has been singing since even before the Baby’s birth. Anglican Christians have a special love for her song because, for Anglicans Evensong has won within our hearts a special place for our spirituality. You know those words;

My soul doth magnify the Lord, *
    and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded *
    the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth *
    all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, *
    and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him *
    throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; *
    he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, *
    and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, *
    and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, *
    as he promised to our forefathers,
    Abraham and his seed for ever.

Mary’s sacrifice, God’s sacrifice, Jesus’ sacrifice are made good in the message given and received and then shared

I find it interesting that the number one best seller on the New York Times list of non fiction hard cover books right now is “Capital in the Twenty First Century” by Thomas Piketty, the renowned French economist. This business of income and wealth inequality is reaching proportions that pose a danger to democracy and capitalism. 

I hadn’t realized that Mary or Jesus could be thought of as economists until I started connecting the dots
He hast put down the mighty from their seat
And exalted the humble and meek

I have come to bring good news to the poor.

Blessed are the poor, and the meek.

Insofar as you have done it to one of the least of these, you have done it to me.

A basketball player and his single mom make it from the mean streets of Washington DC, a single mother becomes the mother of God, Jesus becomes the Good Shepherd for the likes of you and me.

What differentiates us now is not just the forgiveness, the love and reconciling power of God, it is the message that God has sown into our hearts and our willingness, yes our courage to communicate that message.

And if we are to mark Good Shepherd Sunday & Mother’s Day, never forget the message the Holy Spirit put into Mary’s heart the day she heard the Spirit’s message.
He has filled the hungry with good things.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr Paul


amesababble said...

I love Mary's magnificat. I found it interesting that Hannah in the book of Samuel sang a prototype. I just read that the Magnificat has been banned by governments for it's preference to the poor. I find it difficult to comprehend that capitalism and Christianity are so tightly married in the West as the basic teachings of Jesus are not in sinc with capitalistic values.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Yes, Mary and Hannah are a powerful challenge to the wealth of the oppressor. No wonder there are those governments who would want to suppress these magnificent songs. The priest though Hannah was drunk, there are those who have uncharitable thoughts of Mary, but they were stone sober, both of them. We MUST sing their songs with courage and confront the Powers and Principalities with our lives. Jesus came into the world for the sake of the poor and the lease of these. This is what the church is here to do. Soldier on!