Living the Gospel

The Bible saves its harshest condemnation not for everyday “sinners” but for those religious and civil leaders who think they are holy. Those that think they are doing God’s will but instead are using their position of power to abuse, oppress, and harm those under their care. The reading from the book of Wisdom calls out those in civil authority. It says that if Kings and Rulers choose to do things that are contrary to God’s will, then they will be cast down and removed from their power. They will be judged harshly while those under their care will be judged with compassion.

We witness such things every day in our world. We watch in horror as the Israeli government tells the Palestinians to move south to refugee camps only to turn around and bomb those same camps. These are not the actions of God’s law. This is contrary to God’s law. We watch our own government sanction these actions and give rewards to those committing genocide. And it is not the first time either.

Many people falsely claim that the United States is a “Christian Nation” when it suits them. However, a “Christian Nation” does not support genocide. It does not support the killing of men, women, and children seeking asylum from drug lords and violence. As a nation we are not supposed to be turning our backs on the poor, the widow, and the orphan. And yet we do all the time. No, we are not a “Christian Nation”. And we never were.

Sadly, we are like the 5 foolish bridesmaids in the Gospel reading. We waste our oil partying and living a life of self-indulgence. Then when Jesus, the bridegroom, appears we are found unprepared and out to lunch. We find ourselves being judged by the very people we were supposed to support, love, and help. Like the famous scene from Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, the spirits of those we abuse, kill, and turn our backs on will rise up to judge us before God.

Will that be a harsh judgement or a compassionate judgement? I pray that we are not found lacking like our civil and religious leaders today. I pray that we have cared for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the LGBT+ community, our Native American friends and family, people of color, and others who are often marginalized. If not, today is the day to turn your hearts back to doing what we are commanded to do. It is time to start loving your neighbor as yourself.

Pax et Bonum,

Bishop Greer