April 30 2023 “Homily”
IN THE NAME OF THE CREATOR WHO LOVES US
I’ve heard many times ‘we are Easter people’. All that we know or focus on begins with the Resurrection. The promise of God is fulfilled and when the time is right, Pentecost sends the Disciples out. In essence, New Testament.
Yet, today Jesus’ teaching and reasoning connects to the Old Testament. He is invoking the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These three were long dead. And Jesus is using them as examples of those to be seen as alive today, as God is the God of life and through resurrection, these three are with those gathered.
It is similar to what we do today, we keep our ancestors alive each day.
How many times have we said someone in our family reminds us of a late relative. “Little Joey looks so much like Great-Granddad Fred.” “Oh, Sally is as stubborn as Auntie May.” “Greg sounds like Steve when he was young.”
It shows that we do not forget those before us. We do not forget those that created this family we are part of. We remember what they lived through, the struggle to do better so we do better, anchoring us in love and strength.
Looking back reminds us how we got here. We show the relationship to those in our past to how we are now. This is how we act, what we believe, and what drives us – even if contrary to how they lived.
We use our ancestors to show an ongoing, living relationship that will define our time.
Same for gathering point at the end of the Gospel. The Sadducees are trying to trick Jesus, using the laws of their teachings, what has been their grounding. But the Sadducees and many others want what they have in terms of power and control, and perhaps comfort: we are happy where are so – full stop – thank you very much. Resurrection was not part of their plan.
Jesus confirms that their teachings are rooted in the past AND resurrection was part of it. The teachings and words of the early prophets were to lead their people to be open and ready for God’s resurrection. Resurrection is taught throughout the Old Testament. Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea – all referred to the saving that resurrection will bring. Jesus takes those teachings and shows how they are continuing in that moment. He looked into the pages of the Old Testament and saw a God of life, whose power prevails over the grave. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob each faced a form of death – each of their wives were barren. It could mean the end of the family line. But children came into being, to continue their human lineage. Life continued, death averted. All by God’s work.
By even saying their names, they are brought to life and into the present.
As Easter people, we should look to the Old Testament to anchor us in the growth of our relationship with God.
Each time God spoke through a prophet, it was to teach how God is present. The prophets spoke of the Jesus’ coming. They spoke abut the resurrection and the salvation that it would bring. They admonished the people when they failed to follow the teachings and wound up under the control of another empire. There is the build to Jesus’ arrival. The prophets knew they would not see the Messiah to come, but they hoped to be part of the resurrection when it happened.
During Jesus’ life on Earth, the pushback was against HIS teachings and enlightenment as the Messiah among us. Much of what Jesus was saying was not new – but it was coming from the One that everyone had been waiting for, He had arrived. He is showing us how the promises are part of His teachings. And their coming fulfillment will be through His death.
I almost feel as though is shows nothing is new under the Sun.
Yes, there is something new – it is the Son.
We need to see and feel the build and the relationship with our ancestors to keep our personal growth going, and to find strength from those that came before.
Moses took on the Pharoah, we can take on those that twist the Word of God.
Paul withstood imprisonment three times, we can fight for the rights of those who continue to be oppressed and suppressed by those in authority.
Great Granddad Fred is not our only ancestor – Abraham is too.