2014年6月24日火曜日

Do Not Fear, and Throw Away the Bad (Matt 10:26-39)



Do Not Fear, and Throw Away the Bad (Matt 10:26-39)

1.
All the people in the world are watching the World Cup of Soccer. People in Japan are watching FIFA games with the impression that Samurai Blue has not exerted its last ounce of strength. Pope Francis made an impressive comment on June 12, the day before the opening match. He is a very earnest fan of soccer.
“We must throw away individualism, selfishness, all forms of racism, intolerance and manipulation of people to win in sioccer games.” (The Mainichi Newspaper, June 13, 2014)

2.
Today’s text from Matthew tells that Jesus is going to send his disciples out. Matthew’s chapter 10 tells about Jesus’ encouragement to his disciples. He says that some people will oppose thme, but some will welcome them. He says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” He wants to say that their work will not be easy. It means that it is difficult for them to share Jesus’ work. Some people would not understand that their works are followed by difficulty.

We would not be able to enjoy pleasant events without preparation. We would not be able to enjoy the feeling of refreshment of mountain-climbing without the tough work of climbing. Some of you may feel it difficult to walk in faith, and think it goes unrewarded. But please remember that such difficulty is meaningful. We have joy to be welcomed as well as joy to welcome, and we must work to invite people.

What the disciples experienced at Pentecost was that people, who had joy to be welcomed, would begin to welcome people, namely, telling the good news to them.

3. 
Jesus continues to say, “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” so that his disciples might survive without aggrieved feelings or becoming elated by martyrdom. The Bible says, “the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” (Genesis 3:1) Doves stand for purity and meekness. (Song of Songs 2:14) It is necessary for us to have the shrewdness of snakes to watch our enemies and escape from dangers, and innocent meekness so that we do not fear anyone. Furthermore, Jesus predicts fearful situations. He predicts that terrible conflicts would occur in our families, “I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” But Jesus repeatedly says, “Do not worry,” and he encourages his disciples.

4.
His disciples’ role was to tell God’s words, good news. The good news is that God comes near to us. It means “You are loved by God as you are.” It is necessary for us to direct ourselves to God in order to know the meaning well. It is necessary for us to realize that we are accepted by God so that God’s invitation may become a present for us. When you receive the present, you will become different from before. The good news satisfies you with peace and joy, and at the same time it changes you so that you may embody your joy to welcome others.

5. 
People in power think that God’s words, the good news, drive the public to repent. People in power feel that the good news is a kind of sword. So those who are engaged in disseminating the good news become opponents or enemies of the people in power. So the disciples whom Jesus sent out had to live as sheep among wolves.

But the experience of suffering is not negative. Those who try to overcome their suffering with their own efforts will be defeated. Their salvation comes from God. So it is unnecessary for them to worry.

6. 
People in power in our country try to restrain people’s voices, and tread on their anger and sorrow. The authorities try to build up the military for its own convenience, and justify the arms and war against the other countries. We fear that the situation would cause war, and our children would be entangled in it. We worry that such preparations are going further. But God’s words are not left hidden as they are. People’s voices against those movements are not left hidden as they are. Those who are in suffering from radioactive contamination are not left restrained as they are. The opinion of a lady promoting a better environment for childcare has been criticized with “You should give birth to children.” Such people’s tears are not left hidden as they are. Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” God never leaves the little ones, however small they are. God cares for them. Under the relationship with God, none need to worry. The relationship will never be broken by any power. We do not need to worry. The relationship between parents and children and other family relationships are based on the relationship with God. 

7.
St. Francis of Assisi used to live as a son of a multimillionaire cloth merchant. But it was told that he suddenly heard God’s voice, “Rebuild my church!”, when he prayed in a shabby church alone. Then, he decided to leave his position and his family. He did not hate his family. He thought his relationship with God was the most important, and thought he was of God’s own. Its relationship superseded his relationship with his family. He tore his clothe, when he was going to leave his home. It stood for his determination to depart from his father who was a wealthy cloth merchant. He said, “My father up to now has been Pietro Berunardone, but from now on my only father is Father in Heaven.” And he lived among poor people, and lived together with them.

8. 
Pope Francis named himself after St. Francis in Assisi. The Pope from South America makes the most of living together with poor people. He tells about the joy and grace of such living. Let’s remember his message about the FIFA world cup. "To win, one must overcome individualism, selfishness, all forms of racism, intolerance and manipulation of people." This message is not only applicable to soccer. “Individualism, selfishness, all forms of racism, intolerance and manipulation of people” lurk in our minds. They stand for the darkness in our society.

9.
As I said before, we should make the authorities throw away its manipulation of people, when we are afraid that it is going to try to restrain people’s voices, tread on their anger and sorrow, and build up the military for its own convenience. Our opinions may not be so effective. In addition, we might expose ourselves to danger. But remember that each of us is sent by God to tell the good news to the world. God does not forget each little one. As Pope Francis says to us, “football teaches the need to train and work hard to reach goals, the importance of fair play and teamwork, and the need to respect and honor opponents.” God gives us the role to disseminate God’s love in order to promote world peace. We are surrounded by fearful situations, but let’s walk with our Lord without fear.


(Translated by Toshiyuki Masujima)
(This is the English translation of Rev Nobuo Yasui’s sermon which is to be preached at Hongo Church on June 22, 2014)