Luke 12:32 & 34
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock… For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
With the tragedies in our country over the last week, I cannot help but address some of these things. One of the things I have noticed about those who have committed the heinous murders is that their fathers were never mentioned. It is not unreasonable to believe that part of the problem with these kinds of violent men, well, they are male, but I would not call them men, is that they did not and do not have a father figure who would correct them and help them stand as good men.
There are people today who talk about a “toxic masculinity” that exists in our society. It exists because masculinity has been pushed down so hard that it is difficult for a man to stand as a man. Now, if some of you think this is sexist, I am not going to apologize. This is nothing but a demonic acting out that is a direct result of the entire sexual revolution that started in the 1960s.
No one should be surprised at the results. But what does it mean to reestablish a proper masculinity? How do we go back to “the greatest generation” of men who were willing to stand for truth and justice? How do we go back to men who understood what mercy and love are? How do we go back to men who were not filled with a false sense of manhood?
I think this only can come into our world if the church first of all becomes, again, the bride of Christ and second if men become willing to stand their ground as the men of God that they were meant to be.
This is nothing new as a problem. It began with Adam and Eve and the failure of Adam to stand and defend Eve his wife from the evil that was troubling her in the moment. Ever since that time there has been a problem that keeps resurfacing of men who are unwilling to be men. There are notable exceptions. There are also notable failures.
But being a man of God is different than any image that we see currently in our society. It is not machismo. Neither is it a weak kneed pushover who allows anything to go on around him. Men who are portrayed as Christians in the media are far from genuine men. And it is time the church stood and declared clearly what it means to be a man of God, and a woman of God.
Only when men become men again will we see this level of violence finally be brought to its knees. Only when men become men again will women be free to be the women of God they were meant to be as well.
Turning now to the gospel for this weekend, there is a connection to what I am saying here. Jesus said to his disciples: “do not be afraid any longer little flock”. God has already promised to us our place in heaven. But then Jesus goes on to say something that is antithetical to everything our current society holds dear. He tells us that trying to build wealth here on this earth is, to use a more modern word, stupidity!
Where do we expect to build our treasure? What has eternal value? In a word, or maybe a few, it is being a genuine man or woman of God. And they are not interchangeable!
Yesterday was the feast day of St. Lawrence, a deacon and martyr in Rome. They had captured the Pope and other priests and deacons and had them executed. Lawrence was left. The Roman authorities told him to bring to them the treasures of the church. Well, Lawrence sold everything of value that he could find, gave it to the poor, and then brought them in to the Roman Emperor.
For that kind of move, he was killed by being roasted on a grill – alive! I have seen the grill that they used, and the marble piece that they laid him on after he had died. It is still stained with his blood, and is in the church of St. Lawrence in Rome. But, proving how much of a man of God he was, he said to his executioners at one point “turn me over guys, I’m done on this side.” Now, it sounds somewhat funny to us, but it was a sign of being a true man of God! And, it made St. Lawrence the patron saint of comedians.
So, where is your treasure? Or more specifically, what I said before was that the only things that will survive of our lives as we go into heaven are the good deeds or works that we have done that have given glory to God. I said before that our homes in heaven will be built of the bricks of our good works, the mortar of our virtues, and the wood of the cross.
This type of “construction work” is not just for the men. The good works and the virtues of all Christians – men and women – are treasures in heaven.
But our society has not seen men seeking good works as the source of what they are and who they are in a long time. Men need to stop seeing themselves as what they accomplish here on earth: the great job, the trophy wife, the big house, the new truck. All these things are illusions of greatness.
When we stop being afraid that we will not have enough, and begin instead providing for our eternal home, and the eternal home of our families, and in my case all of you my parishioners, then we will begin to fight off that thief who tries to steal our manhood, and the true Christian life that all men and women are called to live.
The next line in the gospel today Jesus says “gird your loins and light your lamps…” My brothers in Christ are you ready to begin living as a true man of God?
Lord Jesus, there is a crisis in our society right now in regards to what being a man means. Because men do not know what they are supposed to be, and how they are supposed to live, this also causes a crisis for women. We need your help. We need to know what it means to live as men and women of God.
Help us to restore the image that you gave us through your life and death and resurrection. Help us to rededicate our lives to a solid Christian life and witness. Our world does not want to see this. Give us the courage we need to go as you need us to go, to do as you need us to do, to be who you need us to be, all for the sake of the glory of your kingdom. Amen.