Friday, July 23, 2010

The Negotiator (2010-07-25)

This is my homily for Sunday 25 July 2010, 17th Sunday in ordinary time. On-campus Mass at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) Teaneck, NJ resumes 7:30 p.m. Sunday August 29 for the 2010-2011 school year. I am the Catholic campus minister for this campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association.

Genesis 18:20-32 |Psalm 138 |Colossians 2:12-14 |Luke 11:1-13

[_01_] What is the best way to obtain 3 loaves of bread? How much will they cost?

One way – the simplest way - is to go to the supermarket and buy them.

Late at night, however, when Shop Rite and Safeway are closed, we cannot go to the store. We need some other connection, a friend.

In fact, we need a friend who is willing to stay up late to lend us these loaves of bread.

And, Jesus describes the usefulness of this friendship in a parable:

Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. (Luke 11:5-8)

This parable is a reminder about the need for good connections. As we say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Knowledge is power, but relationships are more powerful.

[__02__] Knowing someone can be an advantage. Knowing someone with expertise can be a very profitable advantage.

For example, consider the purchase or sale of a home. A transaction as complicated as any calculus assignment. In such a case, we might have to brush up on – arithmetic … plus economics/taxes, zoning laws, carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and more.

All of these are so complicated that we hire experts. We hope this will help us to get some sleep. We want the experts to stay up doing the homework. We want them to get us our “daily bread” through a fair deal and transaction.

[_03_] In the Book of Genesis, Abraham is up late as an agent, interceding on behalf of the two cities Sodom and Gomorrah.

Abraham is able to be their agent (their intercessor), having done some homework. That is, Abraham know about God’s mercy and love from his personal experience.

And, Abraham wants to negotiate some of this mercy for the two cities. He is the skilled advocate, the assertive negotiator who takes risks to move the deal along.

[_04_] A skilled advocate is supposed to take risks.

And, Abraham takes the risk, the bold risk of speaking directly to the Lord about the destiny of the 2 cities.

A is the bold negotiator who argues the price of salvation, eventually getting a discount.

Starting out at the price of 50, Abraham is able to move the auction price down from 50 to 45 to 40 to 30 to 20 to 10.

It helps to have an expert on your side.

[_05_] However, this negotiation between Abraham and the Lord is only a prelude to something greater. Yes, Abraham takes risks. But, Chrsit takes an even greater risk for us.

Jesus is the one who accepts the repentant sinner directly.

(There is no third party intermediary. We have both intercessors in heaven…and access to our Father in heaven. We are blessed to have both. )

[_06_] This is the prayer which Jesus teaches us, the Our Father.

And, in this prayer, we are not asking someone else to negotiate for us. Rather, we pray as Jesus does. We acknowledge and power of God personally.

[_07___] We speak to our Father directly about our need for daily bread. The daily bread of patience, money, health, employment, contentment, education.

Take nothing for granted. Negotiate everything with the Lord.

As we enter this negotiation personally, we also recognize that Jesus no longer calls us slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. He calls us friends, sharing everything he knows. (cf. John 15:15)

[_08___] By making us his friends, Christ invites us to share that friendship and mercy with others. To forgive as we have been forgiven.

This is part of the Lord’s prayer – part of gaining our daily bread.

We are called to forgive others even if we cannot be reconciled to them, to forgive others may still hold a grudge against us, to forgive even those who have died.

[_09_] Teaching us to pray, Jesus is also teaching us that forgiveness makes us holy, even if our forgiveness is rejected by another person.

Forgiveness is beneficial for the one who forgives, making this person both gentler and stronger.

Forgiving others, we also acknowledge our salvation comes through Jesus Christ.

What is the price of this salvation? Will it be available in the middle of the night? Jesus give us a new price…and new access day and night.

[_10_] Jesus get us a discount lower than Abraham’s negotiated bid which is 10, 10innocent people.

How much does the bread -the bread of life- cost? Jesus reduces the price to one, his one life given for us.

[_11] And he calls us to speak directly to the one who made us, loves us, and gives good things to those who ask. [__end__]

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