Sunday, September 23, 2018

Come to the Light

Come to the Light

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him. Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once. Proverbs 3:27-28

Jesus said to the crowd: "No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.  Luke 8:16-17

Don’t get confused by today’s readings. These have little to do with material possessions and everything to do with justice and mercy. Justice toward one’s neighbor brings blessing.

As in other instructions in the Book of Proverbs, the father urges the son to seek wisdom, which in this case means practicing the virtues of “deliberation and planning,” a specification of wisdom. Practicing these virtues brings protection from violence in earlier passages and friendship with God in later passages.  However, today’s selection focuses on mercy toward our neighbors.

The Bishop’s Lenten Appeal might prefer to give the first reading a specific fund-raising interpretation.  However, it is broader than giving money.  As we are reminded in Corinthians, the golden rule is called a rule because it rules. It is about how we treat each other.

Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.  Matthew 7:9-11

For when we treat each other with mercy, justice, generosity, and R-E-S-P-E-C-T, then the Lord also will hear our calls. In Luke’s version, Jesus prefaces his golden rule story with a story of sharing good gifts.

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.  Luke 11:5-8

The light we have may be “stuff” (material possessions) but that is not necessarily what Proverbs and Luke refer to today.  It may be money or bread.  However, it is more likely to include wisdom, justice, and mercy. If we have the ability to speak out and act for justice, Scripture teaches us to use that gift. If you have these gifts, don’t hide the light. 

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