Gospel Sermons For Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Cycle C
A few years ago, I accepted an invitation to preach in a church in upstate New York. The sermon was based on Matthew's version of what we have just heard from the Gospel of Luke: "Turn the other cheek. Give to everyone who begs from you. Pray for those who curse you. And love your enemies." These are nearly impossible words to put into practice, much less hear, and I said as much in my sermon. Jesus is instructing us to take the initiative for making peace, to move beyond revenge and retaliation.
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.