Steve Zwettler’s Homily for October 15, 2017

Holy Wisdom Monastery Homilies 2 Comments


October 15, 2017

28th Sunday of the Year

By: Steve Zwettler

Readings:  Is. 25-1-9

Phil: 4-1-9

Matt:  1-14


Leaning Into God


Ronald Rolheiser, an priest and marvelous spiritual writer, seems to always touch my soul.  His beautiful book, “The Holy Longing,” is a spiritual classic.  Somewhere in his writing he expressed this very interesting insight into spirituality.  He wrote:


“Spirituality is more about whether we can sleep at night,

Than about whether or not we go to church.”


In light of this interesting insight I offer this Homiletic Meditation this morning—which is really a rather personal meditation of faith……connected and instigated by today’s readings.


Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night—-restless and turning—-and a deep feeling of loneliness comes over me—-sometimes tinged with a bit of anxiety.  Maybe you’ve felt the same way or experienced this also when sleep is at bay.  For we all have things that go “bump in the night”….and our psyche and our spirit never sleeps.  The loneliness makes me feel disconnected—like an astronaut dangling from a tethered line in the darkness of outerspace and among the stars.  I am fortunate to have a loving spouse, a caring family, many good friends and a faith community like Holy Wisdom—-so the Loneliness is not from a lack of loving relationships.  I sense the Loneliness is deep within my bones—-part of the human experience—-an existential type of loneliness that turns my heart to longing.




It seems to me that this waking in the night has been happening more often in the past six months and it could be because of the great unrest and dark divide in our country at this time——Images of Guns everywhere—Mass Shootings—-people running in Las Vegas—Millions of refugees starving and roaming the world—-Hurricanes and Earthquakes and Fires—-Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands—-Equifax being hacked and losing the personal information of 140 million Americans—-the horrifying Nazi salutes of white supremicists in Charlottesville, an embarrassing President tossing paper towels to the homeless of Puerto Rico…….the images roll on.


I roll over in the middle of the night and feel my Loneliness and wonder about the craziness of it all.  And I wonder about my own craziness and fragile humanity……And I wonder where you are O God in all of this?  And I wonder where is there Wisdom to be found ?


And my response in the night is to Breathe—-and I hunger for God—-for Something More—for something to turn it all upside right.  And I pray my prayer Mantra:  “Come Lord Jesus…..Come Lord Jesus……And I begin to Lean Into God…..And I fight to keep my balance.


And I recall the words of wisdom from the poet and song writer, Leonard Cohen…….the regain from his poem and song:  “Anthem:”


Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack—a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.


Maybe all of this cracking of our culture is a way for the light of God to shine thru—-cracking—-breaking open—-realizing that all is impermanent—and that only the Energy of Love lasts forever—-and God is Love—and Love is God.


And so I Lean Into God….and I seek Promise and Hope from our spiritual tradition.  For this is what tradtion is for—-to give us balance and meaning in the midst of chaos.  And so I look to the Words today from our Scripture to bolster my weak knees and to help me thru the night.




From Isaiah—poet and prophet—we hear promises from God making for us a Feast Beyond Belief—a metaphor for God’s Reign—-a Vision—-rich foods and well-aged wines—-hopefully a crisp chardonnay or a rich cabarnet—–and god will destroy the Shroud cast over all the peoples—-really?—–And swallow up death forever—-and wipe away all tears!  Hope…..Hope indeed!


I keep Leaning into you, O God—-I fight to keep my balance—-A little light comes thru the cracks!



St. Paul:


And from Paul—-writing to the Phillipians—tender and poetic—giving us antidotes to Lonelienss and Anxiety.


Rejoice in God!  Really?  Be gentle—-stop worrying—-the Holy One is near—-the Peace of God will guard your heart—Be grateful—-Beautiful words—–I keep Leaning into God.


And by the way—-Paul says—think about the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing commendable—and God’s peace will be with you.  I keep leaning into you, O God.  Be thou my Peace!


The Gospel and Jesus:


And the perplexing parable that Jesus tells us today—-about a Banquet gone amuck—-people refusing invitations—and the King and Queen becoming enraged and violent—and a single wedding guest booted from the party because he had no wedding garment.  How could he have a wedding garment when he was just pulled in off the street—–a Parable of Judgment to be sure… of three judgment parables in Matthew’s gospel.  Is this what our God is like?  Yet, Judgment is a part of life—but this seems so harsh.


I trust that the scholars are right when they tell us this parable was directed at the early Christian community to say to them that they must have wedding garments of Love, Compassion, and Justice if they are to be part of the banquet.  It is not enough to just show up.  One must walk the walk.  Sometimes love acts like a two-edged sword—both tender and judgmental!  Sometimes Love is a harsh and dreadful love.  Sometimes Love demands accountability.


St. Augustine said that the wedding garment we must have is a “Love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, a genuine faith and a willingness to serve.”


I wonder if my wedding garment is in good enough shape to make it into the Banquet?  And I keep leaning into you, O God…..leaning like our new puppy leans into me when I sit closely to him.


A wise family therapist by the name of Mary Ann Rademacher got it write when she wrote somewhere:


“It is the tremble of Risk which shakes the Spirit,

Confirms courage,

And reinstates daring!”



I tremble with the risk of Believing that the Light breaks thru the Cracks—that the darkness of Loneliness and Anxiety are impermanent—-that there is some type of Mystical Banquet that will resound with Light and Joy—-and that You, O God, who are Love beyond words—give meaning to my Bones!


Maybe I need to spiff up my wedding garment a bit so that I can boogey at the Banquet when my time comes.


I keep on Leaning, O God.  I keep on Leaning into You.


I wish you God’s peace.




Comments 2

  1. Thank you, I had a friend also write of the same loneliness you speak of, and I feel it to my bones. It is my longing to be so much more closer to God, so deep, it awakens more of my soul and spirit. As I read through all of it, I wept, for it touched me deeply. I’m glad I am not alone in this loneliness.

  2. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the homily. I too suffer from “existential loneliness.” And it is always worse in the autumn when everything is dying and the darkness descends. I feel it today. Disconnected. Afraid. Inside myself. I want to run away to a South Seas island and just lay in the sand and let the Sun take me. I lean into God as you do. I light my candle and open up a Spiritual book. It helps. But it never completely goes away. Just lessens a bit. I take a walk through the hills. That helps to shake it off too.
    Anyway, I am with you in your loneliness. Thanks for your words.

    Peace to you, Steve.


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