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The Terrible Meek

Some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last
Luke 13:22-30

Sermon Topic Meekness

Sermon Week Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 13:30


This proverb is attributed to Jesus in several places in the Gospels. Quite honestly, it evokes an uncomfortable feeling in most of us. It turns us off because it presents us with an image of weakness. We're not interested in anything that seems to suggest that we become "milquetoasts. 'Milquetoast," as you know, is the word for an extremely timid person, someone who is easy to push around. Some of you may remember the trials and tribulations of poor old Caspar Milquetoast, a comic-strip character with whom the repressed, inhibited, frustrated, intimidated people of the world could identify. Therefore, when we hear Jesus' words about the last being first and the first being last, we're turned off. We want to be out front, in our rightful place, and we don't want to be pushed around.

This brings to mind the story of a "Going Out of Business" sale advertised by a neighborhood clothing store. It seems the store really was going out of business and the advertised bargains were fantastic. On the morning of the sale, over two hundred people were lined up waiting to get into the store an hour before opening time. They watched in disbelief as a man walked past the entire crowd and began to squeeze himself in at the head of the line. Promptly, that man was gently but firmly passed back to the end of the line. Undaunted, he tried again, but this time he was pushed and shoved and bounced back to the rear. When he tried a third time the people really became angry, punching and kicking him back to the rear. And as he stood again in the last place, bloodied but unbowed, the man said, "I'm going to try once more, and if they do that to me again I'm not going to open the store.

I tell that story not to illustrate what "The first shall be last and the last shall be first" means, but what it does not mean, in the Biblical sense. When Jesus uses the proverb, He is echoing the third Beatitude--the list of "Blesseds" [...]

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