Passages: Isaiah 14:3-17; 2 Corinthians 10:18-11:10; Mark 10:1-12
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
A man owned a grocery store. One day this man was pouring honey from a large container into smaller containers and a drop of honey fell on the floor. At the same time, there was another man with his dog, who was shopping at that store. The dog saw the drop of honey and went to lick it up. The owner of the store saw the dog, became angry and hit the dog over the head. The dog was severally hurt and the owner of the dog saw what the store-owner did and so rushing to the aid of his dog, he attacked the store-owner. In that moment, the son of the store-owner saw his father being attacked by a man and his dog and so he ran to the defense of his father and attacked the man. People, who were passing by, saw what was happening and they one by one, more and more people began going to the defense of each other by attacking each other. Over night civil unrest broke out and men were attacking each other and visa versa. A child in the town saw what was happening around him and he asked his mother, “why are all the men always fighting, people are getting hurt and someone could get killed?” The mother looked at the child unable to answer, because no one knew this all began from a drop of honey.
My dear brothers and sisters, the Pharisees today ask Jesus Christ if divorce is so wrong, why did Moses allow us? However, Jesus’ answer goes far deeper than what they were asking on the surface level because Jesus Christ knew that what the Pharisees were really asking, and what many of us often ask is, “if something is wrong, if something is not proper, like divorce, or suffering, or pain, then why does God allow it?” This is a question many of us struggle with regularly perhaps more this year than ever. In the story of the honey we see that the men were so consumed by vengeance and anger that all they did is attack and attack. They chose to act out, they chose to be violent and the consequence of their anger and furry was the entire town was in turmoil. Much like in the story as is in our daily lives, we neglect to accept our own responsibility, we refuse to converse, we choose not to open our hearts and minds and to love one another – and as a consequence we retaliate. Then we turn and say, why does God allow these things to happen?
That is why Jesus says us, “For your hardness of heart he [Moses] wrote you this commandment.” (v.5) In other words, God allows such things to happen because we choose to make them happen. God is not an overlord or a puppeteer, pulling our strings; God doesn’t cause floods, or sickness, or murder, or fill our hearts with arrogance; God does not fill our lives with pain, misunderstanding, hatred, prejudice or unrest; God did not create sin within us. We choose to sin, to break communion with God, not just in the Garden of Eden as we read the Adam and Eve narrative but everyday from the moment we open our eyes, go about our days, until the moment we go to sleep – what kind of choices are we making? How do we look at and treat everyone around us? We are given freedom to choose, to act, to decide, to reflect and accordingly our choices and decisions will bring about either good or bad outcomes. And so, when we reflect on why does God allow “bad” things to happen, the simple answer is because God allows us to choose what happens.
It may be a cliché example, but when we see each other in the morning and say “hi how are you?” how much do we care about the person in front of us? When we are conversing with each other on any matter, are we listening to learn, to appreciate, to understand a different viewpoint or merely listening to be able to argue, retaliate and show how the person in front of us is wrong? As we slowly edge towards the elections in November, I see the comments and hateful messages from people to each other, do I jump in and start adding fuel to that fire or do I not get involved and rather look to see how I can be better? We choose to allow good or bad to happen and these are just a few examples in our daily lives my dears where those choices are made.
Now you may say how can my small comment or action change all the world’s negativity? My dears, our choices can change this world. Just like the drop of honey brought unrest to the town in my story, likewise, the smallest act of love and kindness will have an equally as powerful reactions as does our negative actions. If you throw a heavy rock into the water and watch the ripples spreading out, throw in a tiny pebble and you will see how those new ripples change the surface of the water. Every choice we make, every thought, every action has consequences, therefore, what kind of world are we creating and shaping? We speak about our rights but rarely acknowledge our responsibilities. My dears, we have only one right that has been given by God – the right to choose. What we do with that choice is a reflection of our faith or lack there of. Do we choose love or hate? Do we choose to listen or retaliate? Do we choose momentary satisfaction or real happiness and joy? Do we choose revenge or rehabilitation? Do we choose Communion or sin?
Whatever we choose, we must remember that there will be echoes, ripples and consequences from those choices, from the greatest to the smallest actions. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, let us take time to reflect every day, every moment, and pray for those choices we will need to make. Allow God to soften our hearts, to open our eyes, ears and mouths to bring glory, love, compassion, healing, forgiveness and blessings into each other’s lives. Let us pray, that God will forgive us of our sinfulness so that we can begin to see His goodness. God allows us to choose what happens in this life, what kind of life are we preparing to create?