This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

From the Archives - A Series; Part XII

This is the last in the series of my vintage messages from many years back, and this one dates to May 16,1996.  It was the homily I gave when our vicar, Fr. Baker, asked me to officiate at Morning Prayer that Sunday due to the fact he wasn't going to be there.  The parish was Holy Trinity Anglican Church, a new mission work then of the Anglican Church in America, a "Continuing"Anglican jurisdiction that uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and is in general more conservative than the apostatized Episcopal Church.   Unfortunately, the mission was short-lived due to some bad leadership and the fact it just wasn't meant to be there.

This message also marks my first as a liturgical/sacramental Christian, because by this point I was thoroughly ensconced in the Catholic faith, and from this point there would be no going back.   Of course, my viewpoint in this homily, as in several of the previous, was somewhat different than it is today because I have grown much since then.   That is especially true during the timeframe of this message, because then I was actually going through some bad trials, being I had just graduated from college and some other issues had come at us then, and this would be one of the last messages I spoke for a number of years due to the fact my ministry and spiritual life would lie dormant for almost 12 years after this.  Thank you again for being with me in this series, and stay tuned to the next blog post, which will serve as a conclusion/epilogue to the archived message series too.

Pride and Prejudice:  Our Sin

1.   Premise:   Pride and prejudice go together:  a person having a false sense of pride, rooted in insecurity, comforts himself by saying he is "better than those people."

2.   Luke 10:29-37:   The Parable of The Good Samaritan

A.  In the story, a Jewish man is robbed on a journey - make this Jewish man a white, successful Southern man who owns the small-town business and is making a business trip to Atlanta.   Please note three things in this scenario:

  1. The man is an evangelical Protestant Baptist who listens to Rush Limbaugh religiously
  2. The man is considered an American grassroots patriot who votes straight Republican in every election.
  3. This man is pro-life, NRA, and distrustful of Blacks.
B.  Let us say now that this man is walking in downtown Atlanta, probably near Peachtree Plaza Tower.  He is on gang territory, and is all of a sudden jumped and messed up pretty badly.

C.  As he is lying there, he is approached by three different individuals:

  1. The first is the pastor of the nearby Baptist church, a congregation of some five thousand with a syndicated TV program, etc.   He knows the businessman lying before him in the gutter very personally, but fails to recognize him due to the severity of the man's appearance after being subjected to all that violence.  Instead of helping matters, the prominent pastor mutters some comment about "sinful Southern white trash" lying around in the streets being a burden on good tax-paying citizens like himself.  You can really feel the love coming from this man of God, can you not??
  2. About ten minutes later, the next pedestrian is a well-known Bible scholar from the local theological seminary.  He is in a rush because his next class on the life of Christ starts in ten minutes.  Seeing the unfortunate man lying in the ditch, he says "Jesus loves even your kind," and tosses him a tract preaching hellfire and damnation to those who are "fond of the glass."  (Keep in mind that this poor guy has never touched alcohol in his life!)  With a quick "God bless you," the "Professor" heads off to class.
  3. At around a half an hour later, a soulful female voice is heard humming "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" a little ways down the street.   Upon coming into view, it is a young Black single mother of two, who lives with an abusive boyfriend and a meager monthly ration of foodstamps.   However, she has recently been born again in Christ, and is a new creature in Him.   Seeing the man, she sends her oldest child, who is approximately 5 years old, to get help from her elderly uncle, who works as a hotel porter at a prestigious downtown resort nearby.   While waiting, she takes some "Baby Wipes" out of the bag she is toting, and begins to clean the man's wounds with them.   She then reassures the man that everything is going to be all right, and pretty soon her uncle comes and gets the man, putting him up in a hotel room he paid for himself (This elderly Black man probably makes a quarter of the annual salary, it must be noted, that the unfortunate victim he is helping makes).   Getting the number of the businessman's wife, the elderly gentleman contacts her and she flies up to drive him home to recover.  Every year afterward, the grateful businessman sends the elderly Black porter a nice gift.
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If this story shocks you, it should.   Take the word "Samaritan" out of the Biblical account and replace it with the "n" word, and you will get the point our Savior was trying to get across in the parable.   Prejudice often keeps us from being fully blessed, for we do not love one another in the love of Christ.   Jesus condemned this trait in the Jewish religious leadership of His day, and that same condemnation is held over the head of so-called "Christian America."   WE MUST BE CAREFUL OF THIS SIN, and as Christians, we must be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  

Acts 10

Peter had a similar enlightenment on this subject of prejudice.  You see, Peter was a rabid Jewish nationalist, and despised the "dagos" that had conquered and ruled his beloved home in Israel.   In other words, he would have been a bigot who prided himself in being a fantastic and devout Jewish religious man.  God  forbid, therefore, that he would defile himself by cavorting with an unclean Gentile;  I mean, for heaven's sake, they still had foreskins!  However, Peter was now an Apostle of the Church, and as a leader he needed to set a good example of Christlikeness.   Jesus was about to rock his world by using a Roman named Cornelius.

Cornelius was not the stereotypical, bullying Roman military officer:  On the contrary, he actually loved and respected the Jewish people and their God, and was probably more reverent in serving God than most who were self-professing religious Jews.   Jesus saw the faithfulness of Cornelius, and sought to reward it.   At the same time, He wanted to do a little work on Peter's attitude.   And, some work He was to do, but in the strangest way - through the gut!  Talk about your hit below the belt; do not mess with a man's grub!

Peter was at Simon of Joppa's house doing his morning prayer service on the roof.   However, God knew it was about lunchtime, and had planned on treating Peter to a nice little lunch.  So, He set a fine spread before Peter which probably included such delights as shrimp scampi, oysters Rockefeller, and roast loin of pork, among other things;  God is the best ten-star chef, you know!  Despite how good it all looked (not to mention how wonderful it must have smelled!) Peter had a slight problem;  his rabbi would have skinned him alive for just looking at such such non-kosher fare.  Peter therefore, ever the good Jewish boy, refused to partake, and God became a little insulted with him refusing His hospitality.  After all, Peter ended up refusing three times!  Peter, however, was in fear.  I mean, after all, first it was hanging around that weird Nazarene carpentere that proclaimed Himself the Son of God, and now this;  it didn't look good, that is for sure!   What next?

Well, if that wasn't enough, God commanded Peter to go visit a Roman!   That was the ultimate!  However, luckily he listened and went, and as a result, Cornelius and his whole household came to the Lord.  Now, Peter was eating crow, but in the end he learned a valuable lesson:  God is not a respector of persons, and Jesus died for all men and not just the Jews.   Talk about radical!

Conclusion.

The story of Peter and Cornelius makes a good point:  Jesus died for all sin, including racism.  In order to be an effective witness, we must convey the character of our Lord.  Bigotry and hatred are not part of that character.   Therefore, if they are not, then perhaps we should not have them to begin with.

Today, if you have this sin with you, God wants to deliver you from it.   Prejudice hinders, like any sin, the potential God has for His people.   It has no place in His kingdom, for it is of hell.   The very people we are prejudiced against may be the ones we are to be held accountable for someday.  We must ask ourselves if it is worth it to have their blood crying out from our hands, and if so, how will we answer for it?  In God's eyes, Black is beautiful, but so is white, red, yellow, olive or whatever - God created them all.  Because he loves them, we must love them too.  His death on the Cross was for them as well as us.