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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Homily for Sunday July 27

Readings were Genesis 29:15-28; Romans 8:26-39;Matthew13:31-33, 44-52

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus"
This is a verse to memorize and proclaim at the start of each day as you face any challenge in life. There are physical and spiritual forces and powers against us but they are defeated… We have hope.
NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

God has acted in Jesus to save His creation. The Promise is already in process of being fulfilled; until ‘That Day’ when God will fully establish His Kingdom.
Nothing can separate us from the Father’s merciful loving kindness. This is His plan from before the beginning. God determined beforehand to justify glorify His people. Before creation God planned to put us in right relationship with Himself and that relationship is glorious! The Kingdom is God's rule of love. This Kingdom is our heart’s true desire.
Now, if you are desperate for something, when you find it you buy it. The purchase is a moment of exhilaration and joy, you don’t count the cost. We give up everything for the Kingdom because all that we have is worth so much less than what we get.
But even the light of the Gospel has a shadow. Everyone destined for the kingdom does not choose to enter it. Everyone called does not respond. Everyone who finds the pearl does not buy it.
Like a net full of fish some are kingdom ready and some are not. Jesus the Jew would divide the fish up as clean or unclean... Not all birds come to the mustard tree, not all fish are suitable for eating. Our living and choosing are, by God’s choice, part of the process.
Make no mistake: The Father acts first. It is all grace. But the Father acts in gracious love—love which does not impose itself on the beloved. Love to be love must be free. God does not make us sock puppets. He does not force our response. So, nothing can separate us from the love of God; except ourselves. Hell is our own creation!
Today’s reading from Genesis helps us understand what "Predestination" means. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are predestined. Abraham comes first. Ishmael is rejected; Isaac chosen... Jacob is chosen in place of first born Esau.

Those who were predestined are also called (as in Romans) each receivess a visitation and promise from God. But they still live their lives. Jacob through deception (with Momma's guidance) steals his brother's blessing. Rebecca knew his brother Esau planned to kill Jacob so she has Isaac send him away. The the process of justification begins. In his life Jacob is set right through what he suffers.

Jacob the Deceiver, like most biblical figures, is a flawed character. Many people, perhaps influenced by hero myths, are unsettled by the imperfections of the Biblical figures. We are used to hagiography, the idea that holy people are perfect. Well, God chose Jacob beforehand, but Jacob was not a puppet. His life is a real life and his choices have real consequences. Jacob will produce twelve tribes in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac. If Jacob was predestined, he still must be purified (justified=made right[eous]). Jacob the deceiver will be deceived again and again. Laban switches daughters, later he will do similar things with Jacob’s pay. Eventually, as an older man, Jacob’s sons will deceive him about the death of Joseph. Jacob will reap what he sows. He will suffer for his sins, but after punishment comes redemption (justification).
We have too little time to address the Genesis narrative; suffice to say, “if God is for us, who can be against us?” As Jacob learned, time and again, God was for him. He was saved and blessed over and over in his lifetime. He is "glorified" (the fourth stage in Romans) by the twelve tribes springing forth from his loins. The Promise unfolds before his eyes.

And the same promise continues to be fulfilled in our lifetime. You can cling with joy to that! We can also expect that like the growing seed, it will take time to develop. A long, slow time; so we need to have patience and courage. God will do all He promises. God can be trusted. It just takes a looooooooooong time!

In the meantime, like Jacob, we will continue to both enjoy and suffer the consequences of our choices. We will know great blessings. We will also be painfully purified and transformed.

The cost is everything, for in the end we must all die. Yet, the new life in the Kingdom is glorious and the cost, this life, is nothing compared to the life to be revealed. So trust in God’s love and buy the pearl, each day. And do it with joy!

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