Today the Church celebrates the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost. All Sundays are Feasts of Our Lord, and on this day we continue to hear from the prophet Jeremiah, as he compares Israel to clay in a potter's wheel, that the potter worked and reworked "as seemed good to him." "Can I not do with you, O House of Israel, just as this potter has done?" asks the Lord. "Turn now, all of you, from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings." Turning to the writings of the New Testament, we read today almost the entirety of this short letter from Paul, probably in prison in Rome, to his brother in Christ, Philemon, concerning a runaway slave called Onesimus. It's been odd to me why this letter is in the canon, but I so love its familiar tone crossed with a bit of guilt. At one point Paul writes at vv 18-19, "If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self." If Paul is in prison, how is he going to pay Onesimus' freedom price if he's asked to? I never could figure that out.
Today's Gospel has some hard words about commitment to the Good News. Luke has talked a lot about commitment recently; of course, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem where he will make the ultimate commitment. So it's on Luke's mind, and should be on ours as well. Is each of us willing to count the true cost of accepting the Good News in our lives and turning away from those things thaty distract us from it? There is so much in this world that is distracting, after all. That's one reason we meet every week; we give God an hour or so to overcome 167 hours the world gets the rest of the week. We celebrate and make real the presence of God in Christ in us. It's powerful and efficacious. But those other 167 hours can be awfully loud....
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.