Something Beautiful For God
Sermon Week Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scripture Summary Luke 12:48
There is a short story in which a self-centered old man dreams that he died and went to hell. In the midst of his anguish, he looks heavenward and cries out for a second chance. A voice from above asks him what he had done in his earthly life to merit a second chance. After much soul-searching, all the man can remember is that while walking in the woods one day, he saw a spider and did not kill it. At once, the thin, silvery thread of a spider web is lowered to within his reach. He eagerly grabs hold of the thread, and it begins to rise and lift him out of his misery. Whereupon, two of his fellow prisoners grab onto his feet, hoping to escape. Fearing that the thread will break, the man cries out, "Let go! Let go!" -- whereupon the thread breaks, and all three fall back into hell. And the self-centered old man realizes that although the thread was strong enough to lift all together, it could not bear the burden of a selfish soul.
Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus speaks of our fulfillment in terms of unselfishness and other centeredness. "My Kingdom is not of this world," Jesus said. This means that the Kingdom of Christ is not established like other kingdoms. Christ's Kingdom does not rest upon constitutions and edicts and guns and terror, nor even upon some vague "social contract." No, Christ's Kingdom is established upon a covenant of love. "This is My commandment," Jesus says, "that you love one another as I have loved you."
The timeless paintings of the great French Impressionist, Auguste Renoir, literally glow with life and light and color. Renoir seemed to put light inside the people he so beautifully portrayed on canvas. For the last twenty years or so of his life, Renoir was crippled with arthritis. His hands were twisted and gnarled; even his spine was affected, so that he could not stand when he worked, and needed assistance to move from one position to another. The pain he suffered while working [...]