JULY 9, 2011 - YEAR A

Genesis 25:21-34
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Homilist: Maury Jackson

This morning, I want to tackle the white elephant in our Roman’s passage.  Victor Furnish defines the white elephant as “anything…obsolete—perhaps once useful, but now outmoded, irrelevant, maybe even a little ridiculous.” Some treat Mosaic Law as sacred cow.  But to most it is a white elephant.  The Mosaic Law disturbs me; it obstructs my religious feeling; it hinders my Christian walk.  Don’t think that I fancy antinomianism.  I reject religion that promotes lawlessness.  Neither do I advocate anarchism.  Moral reflection leading to consensus shaping holds high value with me.  So why do I have a problem with Mosaic Law?

Candidly, the 10 commandments bring an assortment of problems.  I guess you can say they are old hat.  Moses’ law served its purpose for its time.  But now reasonable, modern, persons agree it is time to move on.  Our time moves beyond legal formulas, which command against coveting your neighbor’s wife, but fail to mention coveting your neighbor’s husband.  We’ve moved beyond official rulings that punish generations of children for their great grandparents crimes.  We’ve moved beyond legislative procedures, which only regulate that evil and depraved economic slave system by mandating a weekly Sabbath law.  We’ve moved beyond divinely sanctioned national covenants that maintain apartheid laws; keeping the resident alien: the Gentile, a second class citizen.  In all, it is time to move beyond divine command ethics (where right is only right because God commands it).

The problem with Mosaic Law resides in its god sponsored ethnocentrism.  Because the Mosaic covenant denied Gentiles access, for us to embrace it is to enforce those same ethnic distinctions.  Moses’ law meant, for early Hebrew Christians, that Gentile converts must first become Jews before becoming Christians.  This position spawned the first conflict for the post ascension disciples.  In Luke’s Gospel of Acts, bigotry triggers the apostles to create the deaconate office.  Also at the Jerusalem council, ethnic concerns take center stage.  In his letters, Paul rebuffs the notion that Gentile-convert circumcision becomes requisite.  Tribal instinct drives Jewish disciples in Galatia to potluck separately from the minority Gentile converts.  And now it appears that in the Church at Rome, Gentile Christians have the numbers; and also the upper hand.  Now they show contempt for their fellow Jewish disciples.  And this, in part, provokes the apostle Paul to write to the Church in Rome.

To read the rest of the homily, please open the attached PDF file.