Easter 6 C ~ "Who?" ~ Susan McGurgan


Unless you are circumcised

according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Who is saved?


When I was a kid growing up in a town smack on the buckle

of the Bible Belt,

the question of salvation floated on the air we breathed.

The question, “Are you saved?”

was as common as sweet tea and Friday night football.


Who is saved?

Well, it all depends…

Do you practice

infant

or believer’s baptism?

Sprinkled,

poured,

or immersed?

Are you saved by faith,

or works,

or….faithANDworks?


How many sacraments?

Two?

Seven?

What’s a sacrament?


Do you submit to local authority

or the Supreme Pontiff?

Celibate or married clergy?

What about women?

Do women remain silent or stand in the pulpit?


Real Presence or Memorial Supper?

Are you allowed to dance?

Play cards?

Drink caffeinated beverages?

Are certain sins Mortal, Venial or None of the Above?


Is doctrine formed solely by scripture

or by scripture plus tradition

or by scripture plus the pastor’s personal agenda?

And what about Mary?

Where do you stand on Mary?

Christ Bearer, Mother of God, Co-Redemptress of the World?

Or

Pretty lady on a Christmas card?

And even among our own flock,

we love to separate ourselves into polarized camps

because surely,

some of us are sheep

and the rest….

well, the rest must be goats, right?

Latin chant or Novus Ordo?

Chapel veil or free-range hair?

Women deacons or “Don’t even think about it”?

“Spirit of Vatican II” or “OK, Boomer”?


Who is saved?


To outsiders, looking in,

we Christians must often appear to be a quarrelsome,

suspicious lot…

guarded,

defensive,

quick to judge—

quick to argue and condemn each other,

unable to engage fruitfully with those beyond our walls.


Who is in?

Who is out?

Who has the fast track to salvation?


We profess to be an evangelizing people,

People of Mission,

yet,

this evangelization too often happens on our terms,

in our time,

at our convenience,

on our turf.


Come! Join us!

As long as you look, act, and believe as we do.

All are welcome!

But not you.

Or you.

And you over there in the corner—we’re watching you.

We are family!

Some exceptions may apply…read the fine print.


Pope Francis calls us out into the margins,

to fierce and lonely places;

to risky places without guard rails and safety latches--

to places where people struggle to make the edges of one day

meet the frayed ends of the next.


We are called to enter urban high-rises

where warrior moms fight powerful enemies

in order to keep their children safe.

We are sent out to hardscrabble farms

where hope is as rare as rainfall

and promises sound awfully cheap.

We are invited into gated communities,

where loneliness and pain

are often hidden by something shiny and new.


This vocation of ours asks us to embrace,

to welcome,

to share the good news,

even when it appears that no one is listening.

And, despite our best efforts,

our vocation will often lead us

directly

into this scene in Acts:

into an argument with our brothers and sisters

over who can be admitted,

who meets membership criteria,

who gets box seats behind home plate

and who is left along the side of the road

until they get with the program.


Who is saved?


When we go out to the margins,

we will walk beside people just like us,

people burdened by sin yet blessed by gifts;

people who are lonely,

busy,

distracted,

sorrowful,

searching.

Most of them,

like us,

will be struggling with crosses

they cannot carry alone.


The difference between them and us is this:

we know that burdens can be lifted

and crosses can be shared.

We know that sins,

even sins we dare not speak aloud,

can be forgiven and released.

We know that while happiness is often fleeting,

hope and dignity endure.

The difference between them and us is this:

We have met the living God

and walk by the light of that encounter.


Like the first disciples,

we must find ways to share our Good News;

ways to break open the Word

without breaking each other.

Perhaps it will help to remember that the work of

loving,

feeding,

inviting,

binding up

is ours.


The work of conversion, conviction, conformation, transformation

was and is and always will be,

Christ’s alone.


Do not let your hearts be troubled,

Or afraid.

God loves you.

God forgives you.

God picked up the cross and died

so that you,

and you,

and you,

yes, you over there in the corner,

might be saved.

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