A sermon by Bill Wylie-Kellermann
Given at the Homecoming Service at North Central College, Naperville, IL commemorating 50 years since graduating in 1971.
“To a Young Activist” A Reading from the Letter of Thomas Merton to Jim Forest:
Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the righteousness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through, as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.
Gospel Reading: Luke 4: 16-21
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
to bring good news to the poor,
Sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
In the Name of the One who was, who is, and is to come, Let all of this be…
All of us, to one extent or another can identify with the Homecoming of Jesus to Nazareth – returning to where he began. He’s back to the shul where he learned Hebrew and its texts, back to his synagogue, from which, first as an infant, then as a young person, he made the pilgrimages to Jerusalem. On one occasion to sit with the rabbis and learn from them; or if Luke has it right to astound and teach them.
I’ll wager another pilgrimage in his student days: to the ruins of
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