Fourthteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
July 6-7, 2019
We live in very divisive times. There are forces at work that threaten to tear apart our nation, our church, our communities, even our families. The trials we are going through are sometimes overwhelming, and peace can be hard to find.
Paul reminds us today that this is not actually a new thing. In Paul’s day, one of the main questions that threatened the unity of the early church was whether or not Gentile converts to Christianity must also submit to the Mosaic Law followed by the Jews. There were two very distinct sides to this debate, both passionate, both convinced of the righteousness of their claims. And what does Paul say? “For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.” He’s forcefully telling us that those things that divide us do not mean anything. It’s not about picking a side, it’s not about defending a political or theological point; what matters is the new creation ushered in by Christ crucified and risen!
This is not to say that the questions that divide us do not need answers. Paul himself was outspoken on the question of his day: he led the argument that Gentiles need not follow the Law of Moses. But it is only when we focus on Christ that we can possibly begin to successfully address these stubborn issues. When we enter the gates of the new Jerusalem built upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, only then can we actually embrace the unity necessary to resolve our differences.
In today’s first reading, Isaiah reminds us of what that new Jerusalem shall be like. It will be a place in which God will treat each of us as a mother treats her child, a place of comfort, of rejoicing, of flourishing. We are called to look forward in hope to that place of unity. And having seen the vision of our future reality, we are commanded to begin to nurture the seeds of that unity today. Given the disharmony we live in, this may seem impossible, and would be if we were in this alone. But today’s gospel response declares, “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” If we work in harmony with Christ and submit to his peace and his word, all things are possible!
Now is the time when we need to let go of our desire to win political battles and theological arguments. Instead, let us each step into God’s dream for us, to become the laborers that Christ asks us to be. Remember that, every time we pray the Our Father, we ask God that “Thy kingdom come”; we can be a part of the answer to that prayer by following the Spirit and becoming part of the fulfillment of Christ’s new creation, God’s new Jerusalem.