Homily for Sexagesima Sunday 2018
Father Richard Sorfleet
St. John the Evangelist Eucharistic Catholic Mission, Renfrew, ON
While the Gospel on the parable of the sower LK 8: 4- 15 and the reflections on the sowing of the Word are the usual focus of sermons and homilies on Sexagesima Sunday, the Epistle taken from 2nd Corinthians [11: 19- 31] has a message that we need to hear.
The English expression of suffering fools gladly comes directly from the 1611 Version 'For ye suffer fools gladly' 2 Cor. 11: 19 and despite updated translations still remains a set expression in the language. Suffer in Modern English now is related to pains, not the idea of let or permit, or as the NRSV words it
For you gladly put up with fools,
conveying the idea of tolerate even if fed up with their foolishness.
To what then is Paul referring? He adds taking advantage of, trying to impress, and beyond that to physical abuse and even enslavement.
One feels an exasperation on the part of Paul that we are tolerating such like and gladly doing so. We are almost anticipating hearing the catchphrase 'Time's Up' in the background.
Paul does not stop there. He enumerates and elaborates on his own experiences encountered and suffered through on his various journeys through the eastern provinces of the 1st C Roman world. A daunting undertaking as it not only entailed the dangers of travel by land and sea, but also at the hands people set on stopping the spread of the Good News of, as the eucharstic acclamation summarizes:
Christ has died
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again.
The inflictors of pain and suffering are they whom Paul states boast of their lineage, their status in religious communities, their positions of authority and influence, and their just plain betterness than you with the power to impose it.
Again to borrow a current phrase: we have all had a 'me too' moment in our Christian journey with facing this and persevering through them.
Referring back to the Gospel of the parable of the sower LK 8, where could the seed of the Word grow in that? To what shall Paul's fools be compared, the trampled paths, the piles of stones or as thorny entanglements?'
They want to turn us into places where the God's Word won't grow. Only their fool's will.
In Matthew 23 Christ delivers a strong message on the fools that we too gladly suffer with a series of condemnations introduced with "Woe to you..." aimed at the Scribes and Pharisees and begins with
'do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them' MT 23: 2- 4 NRSV
right down to taxes on mint and cumin.
Jesus concludes with
I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35 so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.
MT 23: 34- 36 NRSV
in other words Time's Up.
Truly we are the foolish if we allow ourselves to be led by such fools gladly who are only fooling themselves where neither descend, power or privilege have place, meaning or use in the Kingdom.
Only 'Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good.' PS 14: 1 NRSV
What is worse is when fools say their believe in God and still do abominable deeds...gladly.
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