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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A 2020

My father and I were very different people

And that difference was most clearly seen on Saturday mornings.

I would be sitting there watching my cartoons, when my father would come in and change the channel.

Because on Saturday mornings he wanted to watch old westerns

I hated westerns. He loved them.

That was the difference.

One western he loved especially was the Lone Ranger.

And it was one I hated the most.

​I thought it was so silly: some young girl in trouble,

​some farmer about to lose his farm,

​and in would ride the Lone Ranger on his strong powerful stallion, Silver,

come to save the day,

and bring peace to a troubled land.

​Of course what was I watching?

​I was watching Superman and Batman  

and what would they do?

​When someone was in trouble they would rush in,

​using their superpowers to save the day and bring peace.

​MY dad and I never talked about it; but

​Perhaps my dad and I were not that different after all,

​because we were both hoping for the same thing

​Someone strong, someone powerful,

​who would use his power to bring peace to those in need.

​Although that desire is the stuff of cartoons and Saturday westerns,

​it is not uncommon, nor is it new.

​For the people in the prophet Zechariah’s day  

​were yearning for someone to save them

​from the advancing armies of the nations around them.

​They did not know who it would be,

​but they knew what kind of person it would be.

​It would be a strong king, a regular lone ranger type,  

​riding a powerful horse,

​leading his armies to do battle against their enemies, so that peace could reign supreme

​The people in Jesus day were yearning as well

​for someone to save them from the repression of Rome.

​In fact they were yearning for the same strong king

​that the people in Zechariah’s day had yearned for,

​the king who despite Zechariah’s promise, had failed to come.

​And who are we fooling? We yearn for it too.

​Ever since September 11, 2001 our country has waged a war on terror,

​And invested in its military even at the expense of social programs.

​And who does not remember the many who voted in the last election

​because they thought they were getting a strong leader

​who would show America’s enemies we mean business,

​and make our country great again?

​And yet the great king the people in Zechariah’s dayexpected and in Jesus’ day yearned for did not come,

​and one group in Jesus’ day thought they knew why this was so.

​They said that this great king, the chosen Messiah had not come,

​not because God did not want to send him,

​but because God’s people were not ready to receive him.

​They were not righteous enough.

​They had not purified themselves enough

​through the good works of following the commandments.

​This group said that in order to become that good righteous pure and holy people,

​they had to separate themselves from this world

​and be as holy as the priests had to be,

as holy as the temple had to be.

​This group was called the separate ones, or as we know them in English, the Pharisees.

​If they did that, the Pharisees said,

​and did it long enough,

​God would surely send the Messiah,

​who would come wielding weapons to save the land.

​Just like Zechariah and the other prophets promised.

​Only thing is, Zechariah never really promised that.

Quite the opposite.

​For the king that Zechariah had promised was not a great and powerful warrior

​riding in on a mighty stallion.

​He was meek and humble person, riding in not on a horse, but on a donkey.

​He would rid Jerusalem of all the weapons of war

​they had hoped one day their king would command,

​Because this king’s one weapon,

​his only weapon would be his justice

​Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke of himself

​as meek and humble of heart;

​why he spoke of easing the burden

of the yoke of all the laws

​his people were struggling to follow after the example of the Pharisees.

​and why the Pharisees themselves did not recognize him for who he claimed to be,

​not even when he rode into Jerusalem

​on that Palm Sunday on a donkey

​in conscious effort to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah.

​Because they were looking for a king after their own image;

​who would impose peace through power;

​Instead of a king after God’s own image,

​who would propose peace through justice.

​Justice, which according to Zechariah arrives not through war and conquest,

​but through working for peace.

That might seem to make no sense,

​especially in our war-ridden,

​terror-plagued world filled with injustice,

a world now fighting a real plague

​which makes that injustice all the more visible?

And yet isn’t that what makes the Lone Ranger who he is?

​Sure, he comes into town firing his guns,

​but it is the way he fights for justice that makes him a hero.

​And isn’t that what makes a super-hero who she or he is?

​Sure they have all these super powers

​but it is the way they use their powers to fight for justice

​that makes them a superhero.

​And come to think of it,

​isn’t that what makes any kind of leader, including a ​president, who he or she is?

Sure, they have power,

​But it’s the way that power is wielded,

​either for the benefit of others or their own profit that makes them a hero.

sure they have armies,

​but it is the way those armies are used

​either waging war or securing peace,

​that reveals whether they are a true leader.

The Messiah Zechariah promises,

​and Jesus embodies

​is not a warrior king;

​But one who brings peace by establishing justice.

AND that means

that when we take his yoke upon our shoulders

and learn from him and work for justice;

​the concrete day to day justice

​that manifests itself in treating others fairly

​and respecting other’s differences

​and their right to be different.

When we work for that systemic justice

​as individuals and as a community

​for those rights the founders of our nation amost 450 years ago this weekend proclaimed are inalienable;

you know, when we work for the right to life

​The right to liberty

​and the right to pursue true happiness

​For ourselves and for others.

Especially for those whose lives seem to matter so little to our country.

When we do these things after the example of Jesus,

​We don’t need to wait for our messiah to come riding into town weapons at the ready.

​For he has already arrived, and is at work.

Where he always is; in us.

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