Richness Toward God

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
July 31, 2016
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 13C

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
Psalm 49: 1-11
Colossians 3:1-11
Luke 12: 13-21

My Friends:

Almost four years after my father’s death, I still receive very vivid reminders of one of the central truths of both the human condition and the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  “You can’t take anything with you” or—as a beloved friend once said shortly before his death, “I have never seen a hearse with a U-Haul attached to it.”  As my mother and I continue to sort through so many of my father’s things, all carefully labeled, stored, and left behind—many of them for a future that never came—we have had a very sobering reminder that our only real legacy is our character and the good deeds that we have done or failed to do in our short time here on this earth.  Our spirit is all that follows us into the “life of the world to come” as we await the final consummation of all things mortal at the “resurrection of the dead”, when “Christ is all and in all,” according to St. Paul.   Even Jesus didn’t manage to leave this world without first dying, and, in this world of uncertainty, there is one thing of which I am quite sure:  none of us gathered here this morning will manage to do so either. Continue reading

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Love for Rich and Poor Alike

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
October 11, 2015
The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 23B

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Psalm 90: 7-14
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10: 17-31

My Friends:

In the still unfolding aftermath of the world’s worst financial crisis since the “Great Depression” of the 1930s, it would be very tempting to focus this morning on Jesus’ pointed words about the very real danger of wealth to the human spirit.  Who can hear his admonition that, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” and not be reminded of the greedy and scandalous actions of so many titans of finance who, in recent years, have brought the developed world’s economies to the brink of collapse and the poor of the developing world to financial ruin?  As Pope Francis reminded us during his recent trip to the epicenter of neo-liberal capitalism, the poor always pay the highest price for the excesses of the rich.   As the prophets of the Hebrew Bible reminded us several millennia ago, we reap exactly what we sow—especially in matters of justice—and we are now reaping the bitter harvest of the culture of sleaze and greed that has been underway in the West since the 1970s.  History may yet determine that all of that pious gloating over the collapse of Soviet communism under its own weight twenty-five years ago was a bit premature as we in the West now watch casino capitalism totter and reel under its untenable and inevitable cycles of largely unregulated boom and bust, along with widening inequality gap. Continue reading

The Riches of the Spiritual Life

Sermon for July 19, 2015
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Ephesians 2:11-22

As you may know, Ashley and I used to live in southern California. (We met there, were married there, and Shaw was born there.) One of the things I love about California is that it is so completely post-Christian. California is so completely post- Christian that they’ve pretty much lost any traditional language about “religion.” This doesn’t mean the religious urge has disappeared, though; people still speak about “religion.” But it’s different. Consider, for example, the following, taken from a brochure for a New Age church in northern California:

We are not a church “in the traditional sense of buildings, structure and congregation, but [we are] an embodiment and a manifestation of the New Age: that common tread uniting the Human Potential Movement, the Holistic, Natural Movement, and Universal Spirituality.” Continue reading