The Broken Car Lot

MP3 Audio:  WS330314_Dn-Joseph_The-Broken-Car-Lot.mp3

This homily was preached on Sunday morning, November 17, 2013,
at Christ the King Orthodox Church in Omaha, Illinois, by Dn. Joseph Gleason.

~

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 22:1-14
Epistle Reading:  Ephesians 5:15-21

And he saith unto him, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” And he was speechless.

In the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, our God is One.

There was a successful car mechanic, and he had built his business up to a large size. He had many people working under him. They worked on numerous cars every day. And he built it to such a point that he looked forward to the day that his son would inherit his business from him. So he taught his son all aspects of engines, and car repair, and business.

Then to teach him one more thing, one day he took his son to this huge lot full of cars. And his son’s eyes about bugged out!

He said,

“Dad, these cars are beautiful! These are nice!”

He said,

“Yes son, there are a lot of nice cars here today. There are Corvettes, Cameros, pickups, convertibles, Jeeps, Hummers, even a couple of limousines, literally millions of dollars worth of cars just in this one lot right here. And most of them are very, very beautiful. But son, all these vehicles have something in common. None of them run. Put your key in any one of them and turn it. You’re not going anywhere.”

“Wow Dad. That’s not good. No matter how nicely these cars look, if you can’t go anywhere in them, they’re useless. Well what’s wrong with them?”

“Well son, I’ve taught you all about cars. What do you think is wrong with them?”

“Well, I bet it’s the transmission. I bet the transmissions are shot. It’s going to be thousands of dollars of repairs. They’re going to either need to be overhauled, or new transmissions are going to be installed.”

“Well as a matter of fact, son, 90% of these cars have transmissions that are in perfect shape. Transmissions are fine.”

“Okay. Okay, how about the steering column? Something’s broken in there, and maybe you get it started, but you’re not gonna be able to make the car to go where you want it.”

“Well, that would be a bad problem for sure, son. Something we would have to fix before you drive the car anywhere. But 90% of the cars in this lot have perfect steering columns. Nothing wrong with them”.

“U-joint?”

“That’s a good one, son. Just a small little tiny part. Everything else can be wonderful, and this one little inexpensive part can go bad and just–if it totally goes out–it can just rip up the underside of your vehicle whenever the u-joint comes undone. Over 90% of the cars in this lot have u-joints that are in perfect shape.”

“Electrical system?”

“Most of the cars in this lot have electrical systems that are perfect, no problems at all.”

Man! The boy really started scratching his head, and then he thought maybe it was a joke. He said,

“Dad is it the exhaust system? Somebody stuck potatoes up all the tail pipes?”

(Chuckling) “We actually have run into a few of those, son. People do some strange things. And indeed, if there were potatoes in all the tail pipes, that would keep the cars from running, and it would be something that’s easily fixed. But as a matter of fact, 90% of these cars have exhaust systems that are in perfect shape”.

(Sighing) “Well Dad, I don’t know what the problem could be then.”

“Son, I want you to think about it. You’ve got the exhaust system, steering column, drive train, electrical system, you’ve got your engine block, you’ve got the transmission. How many of these things need to be in working order for the car to run?”

The son said,

“Well, all of them!”

“That’s right son. It doesn’t matter which one goes bad. The result is the same. The car is going nowhere. See, 90% of these cars have transmissions that are in perfect order. The other 10% won’t run. But of those 90% that have good transmissions, some of them have bad steering columns, or bad drive-trains. They won’t run. Of the ones that have good drive-trains, good steering columns, good transmissions, some of them have a u-joint that’s out. Just a few. But the u-joint is all it needs for that car to not run. There’s two or three that have electrical systems that are bad, and there’s two or three with exhaust problems.”

See, a car can have 95% of its equipment in working order. It can have a perfect transmission, it can have a perfect exhaust system, it can have a perfect electrical system. Just that one little u-joint going bad could be the only thing wrong with it. Just one thing. And the car is not fit for driving on the road. The u-joint can be fine. The transmission can be fine. The engine block can be fine, but the exhaust system can be shot to the point that the vehicle is not fit for the road.

And so it is with our spiritual lives. A person can look at the Ten Commandments and pat themselves on the back for getting a 9 out of 10. That’s an “A”, right? See, to have virtue, you have to have all the virtues. But to deserve hell only requires one part of your spiritual engine to be out of whack. Did you know that there would be a lot of people in hell who had no problem with chastity? They didn’t lust after  people that they shouldn’t lust after. No problem with theft, they didn’t take anything that wasn’t theirs. But they coveted. And that one part of their spiritual engine gone bad was enough to keep them from even being able to get on the road.

There are people that don’t steal, that don’t covet, that don’t kill anybody, that show up to church every Sunday. But just that one thing–that thing called lust–that’s where their spiritual engine has broken down. And just for that one part of their engine that is broken down, they can’t even get going on the road.

There are those who don’t have a problem with lust. They are faithful to their spouses. There are those that are good parents to their children. There are those who do not murder, who do not take the Lord’s name in vain. But they are greedy. They close up their hearts to their brothers and sisters who are in need, because they want to spend all of their money, all of their time, all of their resources on their own selfish pleasures.

“All those pleasures that I want, they’re not bad ones! I’m not going to strip clubs, I’m not going to gay bars. I’m not going to these nasty websites that some people go to. No, I do respectable things. I listen to music with no bad words in it. I play video games that don’t show anything ungodly in the game. I read novels that don’t have any explicit nastiness in it.”

“I go to restaurants to get some nice food that I like. I go on vacations to nice spots that make me happy. See, I’m not spending any of my money on wickedness. I’m not spending any of my time on filth.”

No, you’re spending all your money and your time on yourself.

There’s a few different things that can happen to you on the day of your death.

If you’re totally estranged from God, you’re an atheist, or a Buddhist, or somebody that calls yourself a Christian but willingly turns your back on the Orthodox Church, with no interest in the True Church that He has founded. There are many such people who, when they die, there will really be no question. The demons will drag their souls to eternal perdition.

But what if you want to go the other way? What if you want to go up? If you’ve been baptized, if you’ve been Chrismated, if you take the Eucharist, if you show up in church, does that mean that “poof”, the moment you die you blink your eyes and now you are in heaven? No.

According to Scripture, when you die, the angels come and they pick up your soul and they carry you to where you are going. As we already said, if you’re completely wicked, the fallen angels are the ones who come and grab you and they take you to one place. But what if you’re Orthodox? What if you’re christian? The good angels come, and they take your soul and they start carrying you up through the air. Jesus ascended to heaven in His own power. We will not be able to go up in our own power. When we die, our souls will be separated from our bodies, and holy angels will come and start carrying our souls up through the air. And you go up through the air for quite a ways until you get to a point where you pass from this world into whatever the other world is. But before you pass from this world to the next, first you just go up, up through the air. And as you go up through the air, you encounter the prince of the power of the air, and his servants.

And as it says in Ephesians, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, spiritual rulers of darkness and wickedness in high places. Why are they in high places? Again, Satan is the prince of the power of the air. And you will travel through the air as you go on your way to that point where you’ll pass from this world to the next. And as you do that, the devil knows this is his last shot. He has been tempting you and trying to defeat you your whole life. But now with the veil removed, not burdened with the material body that we have now, you’ll actually see these forces that have been fighting against you your whole life. And they are going to make one last go of it, with  meticulous records that they have kept of every sin you’ve ever committed, either voluntary or involuntary. Will you be able to pass that station where they check you out? Have you spoken any idle words? Have you spoken any words unnecessarily? Not for the edification of another human being, but just to have idle chatter. How will you do at the station where they test you for gluttony? What about when they inspect you to see whether you’ve been guilty for charging interest for a loan? What about when they check you out for lust? For adultery? Fornication? Mercilessness?

You don’t become Orthodox so that you can skip all that testing on the day of your death. You become Orthodox so that you have the opportunity to go through it. As I said, many of you will not even have the opportunity to go through it. They will simply die. Their destination will be so clear, the demons will just grab hold of them and drag them down into the abyss.

Today’s Gospel comes from Matthew, chapter 22. A king made a marriage for his son. The king is God the Father, the son is Jesus Christ. The marriage, well, who is to be the bride of Christ? His people, the Church. Do you think that you or I were the first ones invited to this wedding? No.

Israel, God’s people, the Jews . . . God calls Himself their husband in the book of Isaiah. They were the first invited. But they had “better” things to do. And even today, there are many who have “better” things to do.

“I could look into Orthodoxy, I would look into the Church, I would read some of these books, I would do some of these prayers, but I just have so much going on. I’ve got this farm, I have this merchandise, I have this business, I have this book, I have this ambition, this thing that I’m working on and it’s just too time consuming. Maybe I’ll get around to religion if I ever have time for it.”

And so those who were invited have so much disdain for the king that they don’t even show up! And so then the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

Go ye therefore unto the highways and bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered as many as were found both bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests.

And here we are. You weren’t even the first invited. Neither was I. The only reason we are even here is because those who were invited were too rude to even show up. We should be so thankful to have this opportunity! We should be so grateful to be invited to the wedding. And we pat ourselves on the back, because whereas so many others would rather spend Sunday morning at Holiday World,  would rather spend Sunday morning shopping, would rather sleep in, well, we pat ourselves on the back because we are Gods chosen ones who have actually . . . we showed up!

But then, the Gospel tells us about one of these men who showed up. This is us. This is not one of them out there that did not show up; this is one of the ones who did show up, one of the ones who was baptized, Chrismated, took communion, came to church. He showed up to the wedding. And when the king came in to see the guests he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he said unto him, “Friend, how camest thou hither in not having a wedding garment?”

And he was speechless.

For there is no excuse. If you sit under the teaching of the Orthodox Church, and you have revealed to you the depth and the richness of the sacraments, and you don’t care to partake of them, you disdain them, there is no excuse.

If you come and you sit under the teaching of the Orthodox Church and you still have a tight fist around your money, and you’re more interested in spending your money on yourself and your own pleasures than you are in being generous to the Church,–Yes, I’m talking about giving money to the Church–“No, I want that because there’s stuff that I want to buy for me, there’s stuff that I want to do, there’s stuff I want to purchase for me with it.” There’s no excuse.

If you sit under the teaching of the Orthodox Church and you see your brother or your sister in need and you close up your heart to him or to her, there is no excuse.

If you sit under the teaching of the Orthodox Church and you don’t bother with your daily prayers, with prayers for the departed, with prayers imploring the Saints to intercede for you, there’s no excuse.

If entertainment is more important to you than studying what the Scriptures, and the Fathers, and what the Church has taught, there is no excuse.

“Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?”
And he was speechless.

And you say,

“We all sin, we all mess up. Not one of us is perfect. Not one of us is going to reach that day with no stain whatsoever.”

That’s true. All the more reason we should spend every day in tears and prayers and alms giving and repentance. Even if you knew for sure that you were better than everybody else, and on the day of judgment you’d fly by easily, there would be still no excuse for living unrighteously today. So, how much more if you know that you are a sinner. If you know that everybody is dealing with the weight of sins that hold us down and make us unworthy for heaven, then how much more should we be in repentance, constantly!

As the Saints have taught us, this life was given to you for the sake of repentance. Do not waste it on pleasures.

What’s wrong with pleasures? What’s wrong with this food that I like and this place that I want to go visit and this book that I want?

You don’t understand. It’s not about anything wrong with pleasures. It’s about the distraction. If you’ve got repenting to do, if you’ve got weeping to do for your own sins, if you have prayer to do for your own sins, if you need intercession of the Saints and your fellow Christians for your sins, you don’t have time for these other things.

As we read out of Ephesians today in the first reading, “Walk circumspectly as wise, not as fools, redeeming the time for the days are evil.” Redeeming the time. See, it’s not just about giving your money to the church; it’s also about giving your time.

“Oh, I don’t have time for that, I don’t have time for that. I would go visit the sick and in prison, but I’ve got my flower garden to trim. I would give alms for the poor, but I don’t have time to mess with that, I’ve got these other things that I’m doing and that would take time and gas and blah, blah, blah. I would help with these things with the church, and I would help other people in the church that need help, and people outside the church that need the love of Christ, but I’m just too busy. You see, I work a long day. I put in a lot of hours and I’ve got to sleep some time and that only leaves me just this little bit of time.”

You fool! You waste that time on your pleasures? Why don’t you say, “I work all day and I have to sleep, and there is only this little bit of time left, so God help me to use that to love my brother and to do these virtues and to repent of my sins. Sure, these other pleasures are nice, but I don’t have time for those.” That’s where our priorities come to the forefront. If you had an infinite amount of money, we would all be generous. If every person in the world had a billion dollars, probably 99% of them would give lots of it for philanthropy.

When you have an abundance, it’s easy to skim a little off the top and send it to a good need. If we all had an infinite amount of time and we didn’t need sleep, probably all of us would do a little bit of community service here and there to help our fellow man. For, if you have an abundance of time, it’s easy to skim a little bit off the top and toss the crumbs to the poor.

What sinners we are. For, we acknowledge with our own mouth that our time is limited. Yes, you do have to work long hours just to get by. Yes you do have to sleep. And we admit there’s so little time left. And yet, with so little time left, we don’t think it’s worth even using that little time for virtue. We’d rather waste it on our pleasures, because we think we’re entitled to it.

Do you not know that in the Scriptures–in the Bible itself–it says that scarcely are the righteous saved? Scarcely! Think of the most righteous people you know, the people who spend the most time studying the Scriptures and the Fathers, spend the most time in Church, that are the most generous, that give most of their money to the poor and to the church, that dedicate themselves and their lives to Christ. According to the Scriptures, they are scarcely saved. And that–as Scriptures go on to say–if the righteous are scarcely saved, then what shall the end be of the ungodly men? If the Saints just barely made it through by the skin of their teeth, then what excuse are we going to have if we look at their example and we refuse to follow it?

Now if I were to preach on every sin of which we must repent, if I were to preach on every virtue which we practice, we would be here for the next 30 or 40 years. But there is one in particular that I’m going to pick out, because from what I can tell it’s one of the ones that stands out from all the others in a special way. And that’s almsgiving.

Twice in the book of Tobit in the Old Testament, it says that “alms delivers from death.”

When we read the account of St. Theodora in the 10th century, she died, and then the 40 day journey passed: one by one through the various aerial toll houses where she encountered the temptations and the accusations of the demons, got several days to see the glories of heaven, and then got several days to see with her own eyes the very torments of hell. Until finally, on the 40th day after her death, her place was given from today until the final judgment in this beautiful place in paradise, this beautiful place in heaven. And when you read about it, and when you read many other such stories, and when you read this book that a lot of us have a copy of now by Fr. Seraphim, one of the things that you learn is that there are some of the sins that we can commit, some of the sins which weigh us down which are more easily done away with, which more easily fall to the side and fail to hinder our passage up to heaven, IF we have been generous in giving alms.

Again, it says in Scripture, “alms delivers from death” (Tobit 4:11 / Tobit 12:9).

So first off, it’s obvious that this is something we must do if we are Christians. If we are going to follow the way of Christ, we must be generous in the giving of alms.

The question I want to ask today is, “Why?” Why that one? There are so many virtues. What makes this one special? Why doesn’t it say that you’re going to receive a lot more mercy if you are particularly chaste, or if you are particularly hard working, or if you are particularly intelligent or studious? What is it about almsgiving?

First of all, it just so grates against the modern mind. We want to practice every virtue except for this one. And what is it about this virtue that so gets the attention of God that even in the New Testament we have Cornelius–a man who had been a God fearing Gentile–he refused to go all the way and fully become a Jew via circumcision and the various things that they required. But as a Gentile, he worshiped Israel’s God, and he prayed for years. You look at the Scriptures (Acts 10); it says that for those years Cornelius gave alms. And then finally an angel of God appears to him and says, “Cornelius, your alms have risen up and been seen by God.” And what did God do in response? God sent the Apostle Peter to preach the Gospel to him and to baptize him into the Orthodox Church and to fully become a Christian. Alms are so powerful that you don’t even have to be a Christian for them to get the attention of God.

Now, once you get God’s attention, He still wants you to become a Christian. You don’t get off the hook. You don’t get into heaven some other way. But even in the years that Cornelius didn’t know anything about Christ, even in the years that he wasn’t a Christian, his alms rose up before God and got God’s attention.

I believe one of the first aspects about alms that makes it so special is that encouragement to humility. Now, humility is not guaranteed, because there are people who make a big public show of giving alms and giving away their money just so other people will praise them for being so generous. That’s why Jesus says, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Give in secret. Don’t go out and trumpet to the whole world about how generous you’re being, and all the people you’re giving money to. But that aside, what is it about alms that incites us to humility?

Well, we all agree that alms are a good thing. But 90% of the time when we feel nudged, either in our hearts or in our minds, to take some of our money and give it to another human being, or to take some of our time and our labor and to give it to another human being, what is the excuse that we use for not doing it?

“That other person really just doesn’t deserve it! ”

“That other person’s not as hard working as I am. ”

“See, I worked hard to earn this money. That other person, they don’t work hard enough to really deserve it.”

“I appreciate what I have. That other person doesn’t really appreciate it.”

And we list all these things to say, “I’m generous, I really want to give my money away, but I don’t want to give it to him. I don’t want to give it to her.”

Scripture says let love be without hypocrisy. So lets do away with hypocrisy today. If you are so concerned, if you are so incredibly concerned to make sure that that money stays out of the hands of the undeserving, then what are you doing keeping it in your hand? Do you think you deserve it? That’s pride. You see, if you were really concerned about keeping money out of the hands of the undeserving, you would give away all your possessions today.

For you and I, of all people who have been shown the Holy Mysteries, who have had Divine Truth revealed to us and still dared to disobey it in so many respects, we of all people deserve nothing that we have.

“But I work hard!”

Do you even deserve the job that you have? Do you realize how many people in the world, in the country, in this county would gladly take your job and work it more faithfully than you do, and do a better job? There are many people who would have more money than they do if you didn’t have the job you have so that they could have it. To give alms with a proper heart is to say,

“I am not worthy of this money that I have. I don’t deserve it. It’s a gift from God, I’m just a steward of it. There’s another human being, created in the image of God. Somebody that Jesus loves, that Jesus died for. God hasn’t called for me to die for them yet, but this little bit of money, this little bit of time that I have, well gosh…this person needs food, that person need transportation, that person needs education, that person needs help.”

If we thought less of ourselves, we would think more of our brothers, and it would be easier to give alms. And even suppose that you find a husband and wife who both are deadbeats and refuse to work, and just want to live off of the government, does that mean that their children deserve what they are getting? Does giving of your time, money, and effort to help them hurt you so much, because you can’t stand how miserable the parents are, that you are unwilling to love the children by helping that family? Oh ,what little faith we have. Oh, how small our love truly is. We’ll spend thousands of dollars to collect cars and guitars and jewelry and closets full of clothes, and collect all sorts of niceties to put up on the wall. In and of themselves, there’s nothing evil about them at all.

Am I saying that you pay your neighbor’s mortgage before you pay your own? No. But I am saying that if your neighbor can’t pay their mortgage, that you help them with that before you go on vacation to Florida.

Am I saying that you feed your neighbor’s children before you feed your own? Of course not. But I am saying that you feed your neighbor’s children before you save for your kids’ college education.

Are you telling me that I need to provide for some other guy’s wife and kids before I provide for my own?: No. But I am saying if you see somebody else’s wife and kids in need, maybe you should take care of that before you take care of your retirement account.

You see, these are not new things to us. These are things we already know. And how can I prove that we already know them? Because this is how we already love ourselves. Today, you know it’s a good idea to save for the future and have some money put back for a rainy day. But if you’re starving and there is nothing in the pantry and nothing in the fridge, do you still keep saving for a rainy day? Or do you take some of that money and buy food for yourself? And yet our neighbor can have nothing in the pantry and nothing in the fridge. They’re starving, and well, “I gotta go get my 5% to put in my 401K. I wish I had some money left over that I could give to help feed these kids.”

We already know how to love, for we love ourselves. If we would love others the way that we love ourselves, then we would fulfill all the commandments.

So, the first reason that alms takes such a special place is simply humility. Without humility, none of us shall be able to bear the judgment seat of God. And without humility, you’ll find it all but impossible to give alms. So, if you already find it all but impossible to give alms, then go back and double check your humility.

Second reason that I believe that alms takes a special place and is so important is that it encourages us to look outwardly, away from ourselves to others. You see, Jesus was very humble, and yet He didn’t think lowly of himself. Jesus knew that He was God. Jesus knew that He was perfect in every way, and yet He was humble.

So what is humility, if it doesn’t mean thinking lowly of yourself? C.S. Lewis said humility is not thinking less of yourself; humility is thinking about yourself less. It’s not just about how high or low you view yourself; it’s how often do you think about yourself. Turn your eyes outward to your brother.

You see, many of the virtues you can practice on your own. You can be chaste alone. In fact it’s easier to be chaste if you’re alone. You can avoid stealing by yourself. In fact it’s easier to avoid stealing if you just stay away from everybody else. On your own you can study the Scriptures, study Patristics, and memorize volumes and volumes of doctrinal information about the Church. Memorize the Liturgy forwards and backwards. You can sit all the way in the back pew by yourself, and then worship, and then leave after church and have no interaction with anybody, and you’ve participated in the Divine Liturgy.

So many of the virtues you are able to practice alone, but the virtue of alms giving means you are focused on somebody else. It means your needs are put down here, and their needs are lifted  up here, and you are doing something for them. You’re doing just what Christ did. You’re treating your own position and your own possessions as nothing so that you can pour out your heart to love another human being. Without love, we shall not be able to stand in the judgment seat.

And then a third reason that  I believe alms are so important; We’ve already stated humility, we’ve already stated love, and then finally the third reason is: The more generous you become in alms giving is the extent to which you are ceasing to love this present world. You see, there is no limit to how powerful the selfish desires of a human being can be. We can become gods and emperors of our own little mental kingdom, imagining entire worlds bowing down to our intelligence and our gloriousness and our beauty and our talents and our accomplishments. We can imagine billions of dollars worth of castles and jewelry and different things that we posses. Well, to accomplish these things would require lots and lots and lots of time and lots and lots and lots of money. And even the smallest dollar that you give away to somebody else is one dollar less that you can use to build your own empire.

Now, some of us think ourselves humble already because we don’t really want to be like Bill Gates. We don’t really want to be like a Roman emperor, we just want to be part of the richest 2% of people in the world.–Which, by the way, if you’re even barely at the poverty line you’re already one of the 2% richest people in the world.–Poverty in America means you have one T.V. instead of two. It means the roof over your head is maybe thirty or forty years old instead of new. Maybe you’re paying on it or renting it instead of owning it. It means you drive old cars instead of new cars. You see, worldwide and biblically,  poverty means you’re going around in bare feet with open sores. And the clothes on your back are the only clothes you own. And you really don’t know where you’re going to find your next meal.

All of us in this room by the biblical definition are already rich. But we think ourselves humbles because, “Well, I don’t want to be an emperor or anything. Maybe a lesser king of an island or something, but . . . “ How much do we love the world? Well, we work hard to build up our names and our businesses and our farms and our legacy. We have these grand plans for ourselves that include lots of acres and lots of animals and lots of gardens and lots of trees. Lots of food in the pantry. Not millions of dollars, but just at least enough put away into retirement so that we’ll be comfortable when we get older. We just want a little empire, not a big one. But you see, every time you give a hundred dollars to people who  are desperately in need, that’s a hundred dollars that you can’t put into your 401k. Every time you give a thousand dollars to help the church or to help the poor, that’s a thousand dollars you can’t spend to build another building on your acreage.

And some of the Saints, realizing the utter worthlessness and uselessness and meaninglessness and vanity of this present world, have counted it a joy to literally sell everything that they own, 100% of it! Give all of it to the poor. And with nothing to their name but the clothes on their back, they started following Christ. Am I even willing to take my 1960’s Rickenbacker guitar that I got from my Dad, my Paul Reed Smith electric guitar that I had given to my brother and then inherited back whenever he died, and there’s thousands of dollars in those things! Is it really more important to hang 2 really cool electric guitars on the wall, than it is for me to take that money and help somebody who is in need?

What other possessions do I have that  I don’t need? What are the ways that I could downsize? What other plannings for my own retirement could I push to the side because there are more immediate needs in front of me? Because, you see, these two things are totally at odds. The more money I use to plan for my future, to plan for my expensive vacations, to plan expensive wardrobe, to plan for my expensive entertainment, to plan for my relaxation, to plan for my gluttony and my drunkenness, the less money is available to give in alms. The more money that you give in alms, the less money you have available to nice restaurants and get nice clothes and go on nice vacations, and have all these experiences you want to have. These two are eternally at odds; you can’t do both.

Before we even aspire to being rich in almsgiving, let’s at least start. Before we aspire to be like the Saints and give everything away, let’s start by giving something away. Before we sell everything that we have, let’s at least find one thing that we have that we can part with, and take that money and walk over here to the housing projects in Omaha and find some drunk sitting on his front porch who the government allows to rent an apartment for $200 a month. Let’s give him a bag of groceries and an Orthodox Study Bible.

You want to fill these pews? Stop trying to fill them with the rich and the intelligent. Go find some drunks, go find some prostitutes, go find some people who stink. Go find some people who don’t deserve anything, who don’t appreciate anything, and drag them in here and feed them. Because if you are not willing to love them, and to have mercy on them, then how can you expect God to have mercy on you?

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Our God is One. Amen.

~

This homily was preached on Sunday morning, November 17, 2013,
at Christ the King Orthodox Church in Omaha, Illinois, by Dn. Joseph Gleason.

 

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About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
This entry was posted in Acts 10, Ephesians 5:15-21, Ephesians 6:10-20, Fr. Joseph Gleason, Matthew 21:1-14, Particular Judgment, Tobit 12:9, Tobit 4:7-11, Toll Houses. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Broken Car Lot

  1. Great sermon Fr! You had to mention the PRS and the 2 guitars hanging on the wall… (one signed by Joe Satriani I might add). It really made me think about a few things.

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