Fourth Sunday of Lent -- Reflection / Homily Starter
If you are here for the first time, after my sermon, I usually ask a question that has to do with the theme but not necessarily on what I've said. Please feel equally free to share or not. As this is kairos Sunday, today's homily will touch on kairos Canada and celebrate our community's participation in the local kairos group.
The Greek word, pleonexias, used in today's Gospel, means both greed and covetousness. Covetousness is greed that surpasses the desire for more than what one needs for a comfortable life. It is an insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to another, no matter how little the other has. Such greediness is prone to continual accumulation by means of violence, trickery, or the manipulation of authority. Jesus was aware that the questioner was attempting such a manipulation. Jesus' response ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ was a refusal to be manipulated. Jesus' response also told the questioner to act justly. To be perfectly clear, Jesus added the warning to him and to the listeners, 'Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.'
In the parable, we hear that the rich man's land produced abundantly. Yet, instead of sharing or even selling his excess crops for a fair price, he decided to tear down his barns and build larger ones to accommodate his excess. In today's context, we could substitute the excess 'crops' in the parable with excesses in land ownership, in power and privilege, and in access to the resources necessary for survival. All of these are things today's rich persons, often including us—particularly with regard to power and privilege— are not will to share. We'd rather buy bigger houses, continue to have unequal access to opportunities, hire more police to protect our assets, have exclusionary immigration policies and/or, be complicit in the poisoning of people and the planet. Is God talking not only to the rich but also to us with the statement, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” This parable and the Gospels are instructive devices to influence us to make the right choices and this is where kairos comes in.
Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos, which refers to chronological or sequential time; and, kairos, which signifies a moment of indeterminate time, a holy, God- given time, full of meaning, choice and, possibilities. The Lutheran theologian Paul Tillich described the plural of kairos, kairoi, as those crises times in history that create an opportunity—or more accurately—a demand for us to make choices.
In both ancient and modern Greek, kairos, also means weather. Could it be that we are being asked to pay attention to and prepare for the weather (kairos) of our times (kairoi). kairos Canada's Greater Vancouver group could just be the umbrella or snow tires that enable us to be on our guard against all kinds of greed; to help us make and act on decisions that promote justice and equity with our neighbours and creation.
For those of you new to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community, we joined kairos Canada as a community in late 2012, shortly after our birth as a community. kairos, the Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives defines itself as uniting Canadian churches and religious organizations in a faithful ecumenical response to the call of Micah 6:8, which is to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” kairos is informed by biblical teaching and inspired by a vision of God’s compassionate justice. Based on this foundation, kairos deliberates on issues of common concern, strives to be a prophetic voice in the public sphere and advocates for social change by amplifying and strengthening the public witness of its members.1
As individuals and sometimes collectively, we have supported justice initiatives concerning human rights, climate justice and resource extraction. However, we have been most active in the kairos Indigenous Rights initiative, most specifically, justice for Canada's Indigenous People's.
Before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) came to Vancouver, we hosted a reconciliation circle with Hummingbird Ministries at Samaritan House and attended ecumenical reconciliation circles and events. During Vancouver's TRC event, several of us attended in person or watched the live-stream. We also participated in the Walk for Reconciliation, the Sunday following the close of the TRC.
It is time that justice prevails for Indigenous peoples with regard to land, power, privilege and, access to the resources necessary for survival. As we go forward together, let us remain committed to the work of the Greater Vancouver kairos group in its dedication to the reconciliation process.
Kairos is now! It is a holy time! And so my relatives, I pray that we embrace the example of the Trinity in this relationship-building time. I pray that we choose action on reconciling with our Indigenous relatives, not as a series of superficial events, but as a lovingly, consciously, and passionately pursued process . I ask our Triune God to help us as we strive not to be among those “who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God” or God's own. Amen.
Please reflect a moment, then please share a personal experience of kairos in your life, that is, a time that you felt was a holy and full of meaning, choice and, possibilities.