Growing up I cannot remember when I got my first lesion on morals. Very early on I was told not to tell lies. And if I did there were to be consequences. The first time I can remember being caught in a lie was when I made a very large mess and when asked about it; I said it was the dog. But alas my mother had witnessed the event. I cannot remember the punishment but I know that it upset the family harmony.
Family harmony is at the core of today’s readings. In the Gospel this morning Christ asks the question “who is my family?” then he goes on to answer the question. “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God are my brother and sister and mother.” Here Jesus is drawing new lines for family identity. In this passage, he declares the imminent end of a satanic reign, mocks the big-league scribes and describes them as utterly resistant to God, and tells his nervous family that he does not belong to them but to his collaborators.
Religious authorities and his relatives lack imagination; based on how they view things, “demonic” and “insane” are categories that promise protection. Those labels represent last-gasp attempts to hold onto faulty worldviews. Yet the labels do not stick. Christ cuts to the core of human relationship and the relationship between God and the human family.
Speaking of families, how well do you think we as a community and nation are upholding families? In fact the bible has over 240 passages on family. And many more that reference family. I started this morning by telling you about my introduction to morals that laid the foundation for adulthood.
Many families are suffering from domestic violence; we should speak up in support of the sufferers. Make sure that the law is enforced. If we see it, report it. We should speak out against cruelty and separation of families.
Why should we speak out? It is our responsibility as adults in Christ to speak out against evil and sin. We should never be afraid to call out evil. We should never be afraid to call out sin. If you hear sinful speech, speak out. Call out the sinful pride that separates people and families. Call out racism.
God does not want anyone left out of the family. Let me say that again, God does not want anyone left out of the family.
Taking a moral stand for unity and calling out sin and immorality in society is our responsibility. We are the ones to remind the world that God’s family cares for all. We must as adults in the Jesus movement take action. Speaking out for the poor, oppressed, maligned mistreated, sick and those in need of help.
We must speak out against policies that have rejected refugees and separated children from their parents, refused aid to immigrants, cut social services to the poor, diminished help for the sick, fueled xenophobia, reinforced misogyny, ignored racism, stoked hatred, reinforced corruption, and overall increased inequalities, prejudices, and fears.
Christ said, “A house divided cannot stand.” If we are complacent and remain silent when we hear those who call themselves Christians and yet support the evils of society, then we evade our responsibility to family and God. Let us speak out in love and compassion – always speaking the truth, always calling society to gather under one roof, and always striving to be one family where no one is left out. Amen.
The Reverend Phil Loveless
The 3rd Sunday after Pentecost
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church