Prophecy in the Public Square

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
June 25, 2017
The Second Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 7A

Jeremiah 20:7-13
Psalm 69:8-20
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

My Friends:

jubilee_of_mercy_logoYou can tell that our politicians are anxiously anticipating the 2018 mid-term election year in America because they are practically tripping over one another these days to climb aboard the “holiness” bandwagon.  At the evangelical Liberty University commencement ceremony a few weeks ago, Donald J. Trump offered his undying allegiance to so-called traditional values.  The “Make America Great Again” agenda apparently includes returning America to its “Judeo-Christian roots” and “free market values,” aka laissez-faire capitalism.  No matter what we may say in America about the constitutional separation of Church and State, like it or not, politics and religion are constant—albeit often uncomfortable—bedfellows in our culture.  And very often, when religious leaders do occasionally summon the courage and audacity to intervene in matters of public policy, both sides in our “culture wars” are equal-opportunity critics who alternately applaud and pillory God and religion whenever it suits their comfort and convenience, regardless of political persuasionContinue reading

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Hope and Consolation

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
June 18, 2017
The Second Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 6A

Exodus 19:2-8a
Psalm 100
Romans 5:1-8
Matthew 9:35-10:8

the-call-of-the-first-disciplesMy Friends:

Unless you count yourself among the reported thirty-five per cent of the electorate who would support Donald J. Trump even if—in his own words—“I were to shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue,” you may well be among the many who are telling area clergy that they are feeling unusually anxious, stressed, and helpless since the November presidential election.  The numerous missteps, scandals, and almost daily misadventures that have erupted since his January inauguration as the nation’s forty-fifth president likely have done nothing to allay those anxieties and fears.  In fact, if there were not so much at stake for our nation and the world, the daily melodrama and pending constitutional crisis, including their improbable cast of characters, might even prove humorous.  Who needs House of Cards when reality itself provides so much, as they say, “must see TV”! Continue reading

The Word is Near You

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
May 28, 2017
The Seventh Sunday of Easter – Year A

Acts 1:6-14
Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
John 17:1-11

My Friends:

resurrectionWe last encountered this morning’s mysterious “two men in white” at Jesus’ empty tomb, in the eerie half-light of early Easter morning, as the myrrh-bearing women made their way there to anoint Jesus’ hastily buried corpse.  There, the two men posed a question to Jesus’ distraught and grieving disciples:  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.  Remember how he told you, while he was in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.  And they remembered his words, according to Saint Luke’s Gospel, and returning from the tomb they told this to the Eleven and to all the rest.” Continue reading

The Blind Who See

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
March 26, 2017
The Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year A

1 Samuel 16:1-13
Psalm 23
Ephesians 5: 8-14
John 9: 1-41

My Friends:

034You are probably familiar with the old saw that “there are none so blind as those who fail to see.”  Our reading this morning from the Gospel according to Saint John is an obvious case in point.  The whole lection turns on the irony that the man born blind sees and understands Jesus’ true identity as the “Son of Man” and the “light of the world,” while Jesus’ sighted opponents, “blind guides,” completely fail to grasp the obvious power and sanctity of this man of God.  Even if they were unwilling to go as far as the blind man in asserting that Jesus is indeed the “Messiah,” the “Christ” of God, they know that their own tradition is not lacking in “signs and wonders” performed by the many prophets of God.  And Jesus seems to anticipate his opponents’ willful ignorance because he goes to the trouble of mixing his saliva with mud and applying it to the blind man’s eyes. He could have simply commanded the restoration of his sight, as he does on other occasions in the Gospels, but, because the folk medicine of Jesus’ time invested saliva with medicinal qualities, he goes to the extra trouble of making the special poultice.  Then he orders the blind man to rinse his eyes in the pool of Siloam, the collecting pond for the waters of the holy city Jerusalem, originating in the “living waters” of the Gihon Spring and passing through the Temple precincts—all highly symbolic places of special holiness in Second-Temple Judaism.   And for those with “eyes to see” among St. John the Evangelist’s community of Jewish-Christians approximately seventy years later, the anticipation of the “illumination” that comes with Holy Baptism would have been obvious as well.  Jesus gives the blind man not just his physical sight; he gives him spiritual vision as well.  The “Christ” is the “light” by which we see light; the primordial light of the Creation that enters the cosmos even before the celestial bodies in the Genesis story of creation.  In a culture so steeped in Temple and Torah, the failure to understand the meaning and import of Jesus’ “signs and wonders” can only be described as obtuseness at best, and incorrigible ignorance at worst. Continue reading