26 Sunday B

1)    "Could you not have tolerated him for just one meal?"    

 There is legend told about Abraham, the grand patriarch of the Jews, in the Mideast. According to the legend, Abraham always held off eating his breakfast each morning until a hungry person came along to share it with him. One day an old man came along, and, of course, Abraham invited him to share his breakfast with him. However, when Abraham heard the old man say a pagan blessing over his food, he jumped up and ordered the old man out from his table, and from   his  house.  Almost immediately, God   spoke to Abraham.  Abraham! Abraham! I have been supplying that unbeliever with food every day for the past eighty years. Could  you not have  tolerated him for just one meal?"  We are all children  of God,  and,  hence, we  have  to  love  and  tolerate  everyone,  as explained in todays first reading and  the gospel. (Jack McArdle). 

2)    Gandhi,  Mandela, Dorothy  Day  and  Martin  Luther  King Jr.

With our fallen human nature, we fall victim to the evil tendency of trying to control the Spirit of God   by our intolerance. Our own arrogance insists that another is not qualified to speak on justice or morality because of his/her lower educational qualifications, low-grade lifestyle, humble social background or race.  As a society, we also tend to question peoples legitimacy especially when they challenge us.  Mohandas Gandhi, a Hindu leader in India, challenged the colonial  rule of  the  British  Empire  over  India  with  his  principles  of  peace and non-violence.   But the intolerant British Empire, initially dismissing him as a silly, half-naked fakir, tried to silence him by imprisonment.  But later they found, to their horror, that the entire nation was behind him in its fight for freedom from colonial rule.  Nelson Mandela was ignored by the minority ruling class and was jailed for many  for years as a radical because of his option for the poor and  the oppressed  in South  Africa.   Dorothy Day was imprisoned in the U. S.    for her beliefs  and   was  accused  of  being  a  Communist. Martin   Luther King Jr. challenged a nation and  its policy of discrimination.  He was continually under surveillance by the FBI and  was accused of inciting sedition and  of being unpatriotic.   There are  Christians  who  still  look  on  believers  belonging  to  non- Christian  religions  and  on  members  of  Christian  denominations  different  from their  own  as  heretics  and   semi-pagans.    In  todays  gospel,  Jesus  gives  his disciples a lesson in Christian tolerance along with  a warning against jealousy and   scandal. 

3)    Intolerance in the  blood:  

In Belfast, Ireland, a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister and a Jewish rabbi were engaged in a heated theological discussion.  Suddenly an angel appeared in their midst and said to them, God sends you His blessings.   Make one wish for peace and your wish will be fulfilled by the Almighty. 

The Protestant  minister  said,  Let  every  Catholic  disappear  from  our  lovely island.  Then peace will reign supreme. 

The priest said, Let there not be a single Protestant left on our sacred Irish soil. That will bring peace to this island. 

And what about you, Rabbi? said the angel. Do you have no wish of your own?
No, said the rabbi.  Just attend to the  wishes of these two  gentlemen and  I
Shall be well pleased. 

4)    One person armed with the Gospel of peace can change the world.

 Telemachus did. He was a monk who lived in the 5th century. He felt God saying to him, "Go to Rome." He was in a cloistered monastery but he put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus. He thought to himself, "Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?" He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, "Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar" and he thought, "this isn't right." He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, and tried to stop them. The crowd became enraged and stoned the peacemaker to death.

When the Emperor of Rome, Honorius, heard about the monk he declared him a Christian martyr and put an end to the games. Legend has it that the very last Gladiatorial game was the one in which Telemachus died.

5)    Each of us has moments, choices, circumstances in our lives

That act as a watershed - experiences dividing our life into everything "before" and everything "after." The event doesn't have to be devastating or dramatic. Sometimes it is joyful and exhilarating. Sometimes it is a quiet realization. Sometimes it takes decades for us to even determine just when that moment occurred.

You have a parent or a sibling die.
You are the first in your family to go away to college.
You enlist in the military.
You get married.
You become a parent.
You win the lottery.
You declare bankruptcy.
You have a heart attack . . . but you wake up.

Whatever it may be, the event changes your perspective, changes your life's trajectory, changes your dreams, and changes your goals. All is different now.

"Before" you lived in one world.
"After" you live in a different world.

A different world is what Jesus kept trying to describe to his disciples. A world so completely topsy-turvy to their experience they found it incomprehensible...

 6)    Changing the Signs 

William Barclay, a British theologian, tells the following story in his commentary on this Biblical text. He told a story about someone changing signs. That is, at an intersection of the road, one sign would point to the city of Seattle and another sign would point to the city of Tacoma. And the boy wondered to himself: How many people could I send down the wrong road if I changed the signs? Your very life is a sign post with a sign on it. Are you sending people down the wrong road or the right road? 

Edward F. Markquart, Millstones

7)    I Love You More than Salt 

An ancient king once asked his three daughters how much they loved him. One daughter said she loved him more than all the gold in the world. One said she loved him more than all the silver in the world. The youngest daughter said she loved him more than salt. The king was not pleased with this answer. But the cook overheard the conversation, so the next day he prepared a good meal for the king, but left out the salt. The food was so insipid that the king couldn't eat it. Then he understood what his daughter meant. He understood the value of salt.

In the ancient world salt was a valuable and scarce commodity. It was used as currency in some countries even into modern times. During an invasion of Ethiopia, in the late 19th century, Italian soldiers found blocks of salt stored in bank vaults along with other familiar forms of currency. Jesus was paying his disciples a compliment when he called them salt.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

 8)    The Fellowship of the Bearers of Cold Water

An old man named Calvin had lived a good life as a farmer for years. One day an evangelist came to the community, and, in the course of his stay, visited Calvin and asked him what denomination he was. Calvin answered the question like this: "When my grain gets ready for selling, after I've harvested it and packaged it, I can take it to town by any one of three roads " the river road, the dirt road, or the highway. But when I get my grain to town and go to the buyer to sell him what I have, he never looks at me and asks, ˜Calvin, which road did you take to get your grain to town?' What he does do is ask me if my grain is any good."  

Friend, is your grain good - the grain of your discipleship? That's all that really matters. When we get to Heaven we will probably find some (Roman Catholics) and some (Baptists) and some (Presbyterians). And they'll be just as surprised to see us as we will to see them. But we will all belong to just one fellowship. Let's call it the Fellowship of the Bearers of Cold Water. We will all be people who have lived out our discipleship through acts of kindness to others.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

9)    The Cumulative Effect of Sin 

Time-lapse photography compresses a series of events into one picture. Such a photo appeared in an issue of National Geographic. Taken from a Rocky Mountain peak during a heavy thunderstorm, the picture captured the brilliant lightning display that had taken place throughout the storm's duration. The time-lapse technique created a fascinating, spaghetti-like web out of the individual bolts. In such a way, our sin presents itself before the eyes of God. Where we see only isolated or individual acts, God sees the overall web of our sinning. What may seem insignificant -- even sporadic -- to us and passes with hardly a notice creates a much more dramatic display from God's panoramic viewpoint. The psalmist was right when he wrote, "Who can discern his [one's own] errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me." (Psalm 19:12-1
10) Designed to Be Lived Up 

Ted Engstrom of World Vision fame tells how one day he was cleaning out an old desk drawer. He found a flashlight he hadn't used in a year. He turned it on but there was no light. He shook it, and then he unscrewed one end to release what were probably dead batteries. The batteries wouldn't come out, but finally, after some effort, he shook them loose. What a mess he found! Corroded batteries with liquid acid seeping all over the mechanism - all because he hadn't used the flashlight regularly!

Batteries are designed to be turned on, to be used, not neglected or ignored. What you and I refuse to use we will surely lose. We're meant to he turned on, too. Our gifts are to be used! Our lives are not meant to be "waited out" but to be lived up! Are you and I living up to the gifts and talents God has given us? What kind of commitment do we have to ourselves and to the graces within us? 

Richard W. Patt, Partners in the Impossible, CSS Publishing Co., Inc.
11) Where to Put the Pies 

I was in a small rural church one time that had a major dispute about where the pies should be placed in the kitchen prior to serving them for the annual turkey supper. One woman actually left the church community because several new comers to the church had convinced the rest of the women working in the kitchen that it would be more efficient to put the pies on the counter beside the sink instead of the counter next to the refrigerator. "It's not the right way to do it", she said. "We've never done it that way before, and I am not going to be part of doing it that way now. I won't have any part of that kind of thing. Those new people are going to ruin this church. They don't know anything. They aren't even from around here." 

12) Sound familiar to anyone? 

The apostle John came up to Jesus one day. "Jesus", he said, "I was walking down the road with the rest of the disciples, and we saw someone casting out demons in your name. We tried to stop him because we don't know who he is; we tried to stop him because he's not one of us.

Richard J. Fairchild, Working Together

13) Are We Askew, Too? 

One pastor tells about listening to his father tell a story about a neighbor whose barn had burned down. The entire community gathered to help rebuild it. His father and some other men were told to saw the rafters. They first cut a rafter and then traced around it with a pencil and cut another one. They based the third rafter on the second the fourth on the third and so on. What they didn't take into account was the width of the pencil mark. Each rafter was one pencil mark wider than the one before. After a while, this can add up to quite a difference. By lunch time they looked at the barn and discovered it was going up at a very strange angle because they had deviated from the original standard. Do you not sense that our barn is a little askew today, too?

King Duncan, Collected Sermons,
14) Feeding Sin 

In 1939, a coast guard vessel was cruising the Canadian Arctic when the men spotted a polar bear stranded on an ice floe. It was quite a novelty for the seamen, who threw the bear salami, peanut butter, and chocolate bars. Then they ran out of the food. Unfortunately, the polar bear hadn't run out of appetite, so he proceeded to board their vessel. The men on ship were terrified and opened the fire hoses on the bear. The polar bear loved it and raised his paws in the air to get the water under his armpits. We don't know how they did it, but eventually they forced the polar bear to return to his ice pad--but not before teaching these seamen a horrifying lesson about feeding polar bears.

Some people make the same mistake with sin that these sailors nearly made with the polar bear...

Queen Victoria and African chieftain – finger bowl….
in NJ – more hygienic …

Rwanda ----Imaculee Ilibagiza . 1994…Hutus and Tutsis…genocide --- 1 million Tutsis were killed…