Summary: Easter 7 (b) Christ has brought us out of the way of the world and into His kingdom. We are reassured that the Lord is protecting us from every evil, even though it rages around us, and even comes against us.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“Out of this world”
It seemed like any other night. They were settled into their seats, and on their way. One was the dean of a college finishing his Ph. D. There were two other men, a software guy and a water treatment executive . They each had teenagers, as did a woman who was the head of her corporation. There was a young U.S. sailor. He was attending the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and was going to be a Navy Seal. And then it happened. The Amtrak train they were riding accelerated to over a hundred miles an hour. The track jumped the tracks and the cars overturned. They and three others – eight altogether -- were dead. And many were injured. What had they done to deserve this? Nothing. They were simply taking the train. Why did it happen? Because the world is full of evil.
And it has been a full week. That was Tuesday. Thursday the speaker of the house of the Missouri General Assembly in Jefferson City had to resign because he had been texting inappropriate messages to his intern, a girl who was a college freshman. Why? Because the world is full of evil.
Yesterday, in St. Louis, 17 women went to the Planned Parenthood clinic to terminate their pregnancies. Seventeen. On one morning. I said terminate, but we know that it is murder. And we grieve for all the victims. Not only the little ones, but for the mothers too. Those who because of the lies propagated by that industry know not what they do. And those who know better but are compelled to. These too, are victims of this evil. Why does it happen? Because the world is full of evil.
And it’s not just in the city. Three weeks ago an Owensville man was charged with statutory rape, and the week before last a man in Bland was arrested for the same charges. That’s here – in Gasconade, Osage, and Maries counties. Why? Because the world is full of evil.
Some of this evil happened to those who choose to pursue it – the men arrested for rape. Logic would say, don’t chase after evil and you won’t be in it. But that is only true as far as it goes. Some evil comes out of life situations – such as those women who were coerced or deceived into a permanent and tragic procedure. Well, some would argue, make better choices. But there is nothing to say that these women made a poor choice. Nor does this answer the problem of the evil that just happens to victims, evil which is not of their making – like the passengers on the train, or those precious little ones.
Why does it happen? Because the world is full of evil. It happens everywhere. Out East, in our Capital, in the City, and right here in our own backyards. And it happens to us.
It’s no surprise really that we too can be the victim of evil not of our making. But we also experience the other evils in our lives, too, don’t we. Evil that befalls us from our life situation and poor choices. And – yes – sometimes there is evil which we choose to pursue. We choose to gossip. We choose to be arrogant and condescending. We choose to bear a grudge. We choose fill-in-the-blank.
What then shall we do about this evil that fills the world and surrounds us? The world is full of evil, and the only way to escape the evil is to go out of this world. And so we have, and we will.
In our Gospel today, Jesus is praying His High Priestly prayer. It is Maundy Thursday evening, and He is about to depart for the Garden of Gethsemane. He says, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
Within the cosmic plan of God, there are only two teams – the way of the world, and the way of God. If you belong to the world, if you are of the world, then you do not belong to the kingdom. And if you belong to the kingdom, you no longer belong to the world, you are not of the world. In His prayer to His Father, He declares that His apostles do not belong to the world, they are not of the world. How much are they not of the world? Just as, and just as much as He is not of the world.
Jesus was not, and is not, of the way of the world. The world is full of evil. Evil thoughts, evil desires, evil actions, evil deeds. James, the brother of Jesus tells us, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” The world is full of evil. Evil without, and evil within. But we are no longer of the world. How can that be?