Pentecost +10 - Year C
Remember last week - moving from prayer about testing to some stories about testing? Well, this could be a sermon every week - making "faith" real. Again this week we hear about the testing process.
Don't we all search around for an authority that will back us up? The very source of rules we complain about constraining us, unfairly we think, we turn around and use to defend ourselves. Can't you hear the explosion in the heads of a stereotypic biblical literalist if they heard Jesus say to them, rather than to a monetary greedist, "Friend, who set my reported words as a judge or arbitrator over you? - get a life!" A key here is the word "friend". Both the literalist and greedist are looking to get their way - their interpretation verified, their wealth justified, their independence affirmed. A key way out of the self-imposed bind the questioner raises is a return to community rather than see oneself as deserving of more than enough. "Friend" is an excellent starting spot for bringing a difficult word and leaving open an opportunity for more. Here's an irreverent blog posting that you might find reflective of the tone of Jesus here.
Rules and regulations, like other little consistencies, are also hobgoblins of "little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do" [a little RWEmerson quote and visual definition] and aren't both the brother and rich man looking for "nothing to do" but walk around a self-serving "heaven" all day.
Since it is so difficult to see oneself as "rich/deserving", I look forward to a literalist or greedist responding about my unconscious appeal to authority [well, I look forward to this, a little]. This will help in my waking up to what it might really mean to take my focus off having all rules benefit me so I don't have to consider "being rich toward others", or, from last week, "keep us forgiving others and safe from ourselves" [Message variation].