Sunday, October 14, 2007

Where are the nine?

Luke 17: 11-19 (again)
I remember today's lesson; I blogged about it last November, so when today's celebrant began his sermon, I thought to myself... "I wonder if he read my blog?"

Talk about "Save me, Lord, from presumptuous sins."

He started out with the same premise, that the nine were off doing exactly what Jesus had told them to do, heading for the temple to show themselves to the priests, but that was where the similarity ended. Our celebrant teaches at General Seminary, and has for years... his take on this Gospel would be more thorough, more thoughtful, with a whole lot more to walk away with and think about.

He told a story about a monk who was working in the monastery garden when Jesus appeared. At the same moment, the chapel bell started ringing, calling the monk to the Daily Office. What to do? Here was Jesus, smack dab in front of him, yet the bell was insistent... come and pray. So he went and prayed. When chapel was over, he came running back to the garden and was (probably surprised) delighted to see that Jesus was standing there waiting for him. Jesus told him, "If you had not been obedient to your obligation to pray, I would not have waited."

Ouch! How many times have I skipped one of the Offices because something was more pressing? And what could be more pressing than Jesus in the flesh, standing right in front of me? From my perspective, that would certainly supersede any prayer requirements.

But wait, there's more. Our priest went on to explore the vow of obedience in both of these stories, with examples from secular life as well. The point he made, was to look for the benefit. In the choice between keeping and breaking the rules, in following or disregarding a command... ask yourself who will be served? If it's for your own benefit or convenience that you break the rules, then that is sin. If you have nothing to gain, in fact something to lose, by breaking the rules, but someone other than yourself will be served... then that is when breaking, not keeping would be the appropriate thing to do.

I couldn't help but put myself in the place of that poor monk. Would I have gone to chapel? I think not. I like to think I might have said, "Jesus, the chapel bell is ringing, would you like to come along?" But I'm kidding myself. I would have stayed in the garden, made a picnic, asked forgiveness, created a party. The bridegroom was here and I would not have left him waiting among the cabbages.


HeyJules said...

I'm with you! How could someone walk away when Jesus is standing in front of you? What sense does that make?

Love the part about who will this benefit - I'm going to have to remember that and use it as a guideline in the future.

Luke said...

I think i would have passed out from shock. Ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, I'd have joined your picnic, Sr. CJ! (Though I tend to suck as a hostess and probably would've just plunked myself down at his feet, Mary-style (a la Mary & Martha). I am also reminded of the recent reading about the Pharisees balking that the disciples did not fast, etc. And Jesus' response that the guests shall not fast while the bridegroom is among them.

Yeah, I'd have definitely skipped prayers. Woe to me.

Pat said...

I wonder who wrote that story that presumed what Jesus would have said?

Obedience, OK, I can go with that. But torn between two obediences, I would choose obedience to the nudgings of my heart.