“Wisdon – the Tie that Binds” ©
by Rev. Jim Ryan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Homily Thoughts on Feast of the Holy Family, 2015
The entry way to our house is especially cluttered these days. Along with the usual flotsam and jetsam additional items have been included. There now, have been added two satellite receiver boxes (or whatever they call those things that bring in the satellite signal), one microwave box, and one coffeemaker box (brand name removed so as to avoid any risk of adverse repercussion of its mention). That’s right we are a house full of new appliances this Christmas. How great.
However, the reason for this accumulation has nothing to do with a financial windfall. No, the reason has to do with a really bad string of breakdowns over the last two months. The satellite box stopped working first. Once the tech support person realized that the box was older than 4 years it became necessary to replace it – at no cost to us, of course, but we would have to agree to a new 2 year contract.
The microwave went next followed by the coffeemaker. We have had – in the past year and a half – three microwaves and three coffeemakers. Nothing is outside of warranty so they are replaced – are you ready, “FOR FREE.” So, this Christmas we are loaded up with new appliances and we didn’t pay a dime for them. How lucky for us, you might say. But I say, “NO, not luck. Not in an era of planned obsolescence, faulty manufacturing and plastic component parts that seem to break on touch.
More than that, let’s throw in throwaway relationships. How bizarre is it that there are actual TV shows that eliminate people until the lucky bachelor or bachelorette finds the perfect mate? Give me a break.
This Christmas I long for the time when things and relationships lasted. When things worked. Spoiler alert! I am not leading up to gushing praise for a view on family – despite this being Feast of the Holy Family – that recalls a 1950s take on family a la “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best.” Yeccccccch-
Where I’m headed is taking a look at connectedness. Why does it feel like things lasted longer years ago? And by that I’m only going back 20 years. Before the string of 3 microwaves in less than 15 months our reliable microwave worked for over 20 years. When things work – when they last – one takes connectedness for granted.
When they don’t the whole idea of connection blows up. Let’s take a leap here and throw family into the mix. From a word that perhaps once spoke best to connectedness we now have a word that is just, well, overloaded. The word “community” is the same. And don’t get me started on “love.”
Family is so overworked that everybody wants to get into the act. Does anyone seriously think that Roman Catholic Bishops – a group of, typically, old men who are assumed to be celibate – have anything to say of family beyond good intentions and overarching themes?
Speaking to connection and family requires one to start small. What comes to mind for me is the hymn title, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.” What is the tie that binds today? How do these ties impact whatever it is we mean by family?
Here are two lines from our 1st Reading today taken from the Book of Wisdom:
“Wisdom moves more swiftly than motion itself. She purely pervades and permeates all living things.”
Wisdom surrounds, permeates, immerses us in God. Wisdom in practice opens each human to the good, the best, the loveable, the beloved in other humans. Quicker than motion itself, Wisdom does not allow barriers to this love get in her way (since, in the Bible, God’s Wisdom is always She.) We seek this Wisdom. In our joint seeking -this is the tie that binds.
Where is the tie that binds? As we gather here in our circle of worship, this is the tie that binds. In an open embrace of all who love and are loved in return, this is the tie that binds. We gather as God’s people confident and full of faith this Christmas season, people who are Body of Christ for each other and for the world. This is the tie that binds. Those who breathe the power of God’s Wisdom form family and this is the tie that binds.
I have one simple test for identifying the tie that binds. It is “If I didn’t have it, I would want it.” While some may see this as a description of addiction, let’s counter that thought (a reasonable one, I grant) with a line from the same Book of Wisdom passage:
“For God loves the one who finds a home in Wisdom.”
If I didn’t have a home in God’s wisdom, I would want it. This is the tie that binds.
So, if we’re going to use that overloaded term of “family,” let’s add “home.” Quite apart from addiction, this living within the Wisdom of God moves a person forward and outward. Remember, Wisdom moves more swiftly than motion itself. At this pace it is difficult to keep up with ourselves because Wisdom’s vision sees all that must be done and keeps us discontent over what is not done due to humanity’s lack of vision.
If there be addiction here it is the possession of our soul by Wisdom, as well, in this Christmas season, possession by the Word become flesh, the Incarnate Christ.
Returning to the question of connectedness, I say Wisdom is the tie that binds and we tie ourselves to this gift – this godly appliance – that works year in and year out.
A Prayer by Jim Ryan
(This prayer is based upon my poem, “Up the Irish” composed on the occasion of the people of Ireland voting for marriage equality in May, 2015.)
Tell your sweethearts,
awake to the hoped for day believers won.
It’s who you love, darling, and who loves you back.
The One who starts us, points us, gifts us, ends us.
This One we won.
This One falls full from Threeness – returning us to home.
For we are love who is God. Amen.