Thursday, 30 July 2020

8th Sunday after Pentecost 26 Jul 2020 Sermon

8th Sunday after Pentecost 26.7.20 Identity

In the prodigal son parable the son is re-admitted to the family simply because he is the son; he did not ‘deserve’ to be taken back; it was merely that the father loved him anyway, in spite of his many faults.

 This is our position before Almighty God. We are sons, not slaves, as the epistle says.

 We will be accepted back into the fold if we have strayed away. We are still members of the royal family even if we have been acting like outcasts.

 Of course, we should be grateful for this. Where else can we trample on the laws of a place and expect to get away with it time after time?

God will forgive our sins even if they are repeated many times.

He is not just ignoring the sin, as if He were easy-going. The sin is painful to Him and He will remove it.

He will cleanse us from that sin, and even the tendency to sin. He wants to heal us at the deepest level, so that we are transformed in His image; transformed from sinners to saints, from outcasts to children of the palace; such that we will not only be His children, but think and act like we are.

These days it is customary not to talk about sin or fault in others.

This is a short-term path to peace, but it is better if we understand that we do have faults which can be forgiven and overcome.

Better to admit fault, be forgiven and strengthened; rather than to deny fault and stay in our mediocrity and sins.

We can still be confident of salvation and feel good about ourselves, but with the extra assurance that we really are in union with God's will.

St Paul is exhorting us in today’s epistle to live according to our true identity - which is children of God.

God has created us; called us to special union with Him. This is a great privilege.

The old- style spiritual authors emphasize our lowliness before God. We are as miserable worms before Him. This is meant to humble us, which we certainly need.

We are miserable worms by comparison with God. Human lowliness compared with eternal infinite glory.

We are even more so miserable worms when we disobey Almighty God.

But we are still children of the palace, members of God's royal family.

With due humility restored we are then able to act according to our true status – we are called to something higher, and we answer the call.

We never forget, however, that anything good we do is made possible by the grace of God.

We never forget our dependence on Him.

We can never be worthy of fellowship with God, strictly speaking, but we can accept His grace and mercy.

We really are His children; it is up to us to live according to that identity.

We can reclaim our position, by taking up our responsibilities and growing into our true identity (cf Henry V of England).

Anyone that is not good now can become so, and for this we pray constantly, for conversion and repentance.

We do all we can to help others to find their true status before God.

We know the phrase, Act your age…well, this is Act your identity - a child of God.

And we can discover a new world, truly the kingdom of God come among us.


Thursday, 23 July 2020

7th Sunday after Pentecost 19 Jul 2020 Sermon

7th Sunday after Pentecost 19.7.20 Judgment

Those who say ‘Lord Lord’  are not necessarily saved (Gospel)

We must be doers of the word and not just speaking it (Jm 1,22)

In the end we will be judged on our actions, as in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Mt 25, 31-46). Whatever you did for the least of my brethren you did for Me.

It is the doing that counts.

We still should say the right things because that will help us to focus on what we ought to be doing. Also our words can be useful as instruction or encouragement.

Having said that actions are more important, they are not enough by themselves.

1) We must act from the right motives. Even if I give my body to be burnt, but have not love, it profits me nothing (1 Co 13,3).

The motive for our good actions is very important because there we find our true stance towards Almighty God.

If I am doing good only for my own self-interest – seeking to impress others, for instance – that will not bring me closer to God.

But if I am seeking to please Him for His sake, that is loving God as we are commanded.

Many today would bypass God and just try to help other people, missing the main point of the whole operation.

We are created to know love and serve God. This is our main reason for existing. It is not a side issue

It still comes down to what we do, but we see that our words are important, and our motives more important still.

We can get all of it right with continual application.

Most people would see readily the importance of good actions.

Many, indeed, will justify their wrong behaviour by pointing to the good that they do.

‘I don’t go to Mass but I do help out at the soup kitchen’ – for instance.

2) We cannot trade obligations like this. We have to seek complete unity of all our obligations, so that we are thinking, saying, and doing the right things. And all of this for the glory of God – motivated by Him and leading back to Him..

We cannot rely only on one of these things alone. Words without actions can be just hot air; good intentions the same.

3) Actions can be misdirected, for example, helping someone to organise suicide through euthanasia.

We have all these threads in our hands, and need wisdom to get the right balance.

We constantly need to re-organise our thoughts, words, and actions; straighten out anything that is off-balance.

We cannot do this all at once, as it involves so many habits and patterns of behaviour. We can at least head in the right direction, which is what we are doing whenever we make an act of repentance.

Peace of mind comes as we sense that we are converging on the right conditions for salvation.

God will help each disciple to get all this right, with constant forgiveness and encouragement, with wisdom to keep it all in balance.

Like any activity it can become less of an effort; we automatically do the right things. overcoming obstacles like unforgiveness, sloth, apathy, bad example from others.

Our motives are purified, our thoughts and words also; our actions will be the right ones and for the right reasons.

So each disciple and the whole Church are meant to operate. This is how we are saved.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

6th Sunday after Pentecost 12 Jul 2020 Sermon

6th Sunday after Pentecost 12.7.20 Start again

It might seem that Christianity offers happiness in the next life, but not much in this one!

In fact, though, we can find happiness in both – more in the next life certainly, but a lot here as well.

The greatest happiness here on earth is not found in worldly pursuits, but in finding ourselves free from the greatest scourge the human race encounters – Sin.

Sin as the deliberate lack of regard for the will of Almighty God. When we sin we cut off our link to all that is good and lifegiving.

It is sin that has caused all the trouble in the universe, including all that lands upon us.

It is not necessarily our own sin but just the fallout from sin in general. I might be careful with matches but my neighbour might not, and my house burns down.

Life is not meant to be as difficult as it actually is. If we had obeyed God from the beginning none of these things would happen.

If we would repent at any time, we immediately start to reclaim the order that should have been there all along.

We can always repent, as individuals and as the people of God. And it is always effective.

Israel would always turn to repentance when they saw things going against them. It always worked.

The epistle today (Romans 6) speaks of baptism as dying to sin. When we go into the water we emerge cleansed from sin. It is the most refreshing bath we will ever have.

We die with Christ and we rise with Him.

This is our first resurrection, emerging from the captivity of sin.

Our second resurrection will be on the Last Day.

We need a moral resurrection before we can claim the physical.

In various ways and times a person might come to faith, repentance, and make a new start.

It can happen to a whole city or nation. We can recall the various saints who had such success in bringing whole groups of people to this new life of grace. (St Patrick in Ireland, St Francis Xavier in Asia, St Francis de Sales, reclaiming Protestants, and many more).

To come to faith and/or repentance is a joyful moment and one feels a real liberation, like a bird discovering flight.

It is all a matter of reading the signs, of really seeing what is happening.

We enjoy earthly pleasures but it makes a great deal of difference whether we enjoy them simply at the physical level, or we see them as coming from God, and leading back to Him.

Always the challenge is to look somewhat higher than just what is apparent to us.

The failure to look ‘upwards’ is the whole problem from start to finish.

We still suffer because there is so much disorder around, but we have an interior peace which enables us to perceive the divine presence all around us.

So we can have hope for ourselves, and we can offer it to others.

There really is a way out of all this  - not suicide – but repentance!

Repentance, all at once, or even bit by bit, we can make progress.

Even one less sin, or one less type of sin, is to be more alive.

We have died to sin and will not return to it. We now have a new way of life, from now on; a new happiness which we will know for this life, and even more in the next.

Masses have resumed

Mass at St Monica's Church, Walkerville has resumed from Sunday 5th July at 8am. Each person is asked to sign in for purposes of tracking regarding Coronavirus.

Weekday Masses have resumed at St Monica's from Monday (6th July). The times of those Masses:
Mon 8am
Tue 6.45am
Wed 6.45am
Thu 8am
Fri 6.45am
Sat 8am

The 5pm Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Church, Hindmarsh, is also back in operation. People attending there are also asked to sign in each week.

God bless,
Fr David Thoroughgood

5th Sunday after Pentecost 5 Jul 2020 Sermon

5th Sunday after Pentecost 5.7.20 

Our Lord did not come to end the Law but to fulfil it. This explains the passage in today’s Gospel where He makes the command to love even more demanding. 
We not only avoid killing our brother but we do not even insult him.

He is raising us to a more perfect understanding of what God intends, and therefore  a greater responsibility to uphold that law.

The law to love one’s neighbour is from truly sacred origins, and follows from our sharing in the nature of God.

We are to love one another because God loves all others, and how can we differ from Him?
Think of a human body where the various parts are at war with each other. So with the Body of Christ – it is torn by lack of charity and we all suffer accordingly.

We can see that our lack of love stems from our own limitations which are largely caused by sin.

Sin darkens our minds and hearts and we find fault with each other, when we should all be directing our attention to God instead, and finding healing and new vision there.

Love should not be an uphill climb; it should flow spontaneously as it does for a baby who loves his mother.

It is essentially simple: God loves us first; we are formed by that love and reflect it back to Him, and also to others around us.

The reflection is a lot dimmer than the original, but we can at least improve with experience.

We refresh our supply of charity at the Source, which is God Himself. We draw grace from Him and this transforms us. We then have greater tolerance for others, and can excuse their faults, wishing that they come to their own experience of God's mercy.

Each offering of the Mass is calling down the purity of divine love on all who participate.

We are imperfect in our offering, but become less so as we are absorbed in it.

What happens on the altar is happening to us as well. We make an offering of ourselves to the Father, an offering of contrition, of praise, and thanksgiving.

We pray that the Father accept this atoning sacrifice and restore us to His favour, all the while  increasing our capacity to love.

This is the meaning of being reconciled with our brother before offering sacrifice (Gospel).
It is not possible to make peace with everyone before every Mass, but we can at least have this basic goodwill towards all others. The Precious Blood sweeps away the barriers between us.

We have true goodwill to others because we are lifted far beyond the usual petty grievances and worldly ways of looking at things.

We could say that in the absence of being reconciled before the Mass we are reconciled during the Mass.

Every Mass is partly an expression of unity and partly a prayer that the missing unity can be found.

It will be found in charity. Even doctrinal differences will be resolved as we all come into the blinding light of Christ. We can hardly disagree with each other when standing with Him.

Instructions to charity are often dismissed as being merely wishful thinking; it could never happen in reality – it is thought.

Indeed it can happen if we lift our thoughts heavenwards.

Loving others does not mean we approve of them; only that we want for them what we would want for ourselves – to be granted God’s mercy and to be transformed in the process. 

Near or far we want all to know the depths of Christ (Ep 3,18).

Thursday, 2 July 2020

4th Sunday after Pentecost 28 Jun 2020 Sermon

4th Sunday after Pentecost 28.6.20  Imperative words

In the Sacred Scriptures God speaks many words to us. We find a certain forcefulness about His words, which is not surprising given His position of absolute authority over us.

He does not ask our opinion first before He says something. He puts it very plainly before us.

Take the Commandments: Thou shalt not kill/steal/commit adultery etc. Or His operational instructions, as in today’s Gospel: Cast out into the deep and let down your nets

Then there are more comforting statements, such as  Come to Me all you labour and I will give you rest (Mt 11,28-30)…Or Your sins are forgiven (mt 9,5)… Enter into the kingdom prepared … (Mt 25,34)

God knows what He is about; He does not need to search for words, or hesitate.

His word does not return to Him empty (Is 55,11).

We can take comfort that we are in the hands of One who is so much in command of the situation.  He has all power over heaven and earth (Mt 28, 18-20)

All his words to us are meant for our good, whether they seem strict or gentle. If He is strict it is so that we will grasp the importance of the topic.

If He speaks we must listen. We cannot dismiss His words, or relegate them to lesser status.

Many have ignored His commands, and what a price we have all paid for that. All the trouble in the world stems from human resistance to the word of God.

Then as regards the gentler words - we have ignored them too.

He has offered Mercy to us, chance after chance to come right with Him, and we refuse to believe He can forgive us, or will forgive, or has the power to transform us to something better.

So people see the harshness of the world, caused by their own sin, and refuse to come into union with their God, which is all they have to do to fix all that is wrong.

Swords would be turned in ploughshares and peace would prevail if enough people responded to Our Lord’s words.

There is always the temptation to doubt. God does not waste words. If He says to do something we should do it.

If He says Do X and Y will follow, then we must do X not doubting the result.

Here again there is much resistance. We say, how could that happen? It is against the laws of science.

Well, science tells us only what normally happens; it has no authority of its own to decide what can or cannot happen.

God can make the waters part, literally and figuratively.

The same in today’s Gospel; put out your nets. There have been no fish apparent; But, try it anyway, and there is a huge catch.

It cannot happen, but it does! This is a familiar story with God.

If more people had more faith there would undoubtedly be more miracles. Clearly the faith dimension is symbolised in this miracle of the fish.

It does not look like there are many people lining up to become Christian, but do what Our Lord tells us, and we will catch a lot of them anyway.

Miracles aside, even in the ordinary course of things we would have a much happier world if we obeyed the Lord’s commands (stricter statements) and accepted His mercy (gentler statements), when we have fallen.

The more seriously we take His word the more closely united with Him we will become; and that leads to great happiness. Whatever difficulties we still encounter will be more than covered by having the Lord of all creation right there with us.

He is freeing us from our doubt. He wants us to believe in Him to the point that without hesitation we will do whatever He tells us.

Do whatever He tells you, as Our Lady said. And another miracle followed.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

3rd Sunday after Pentecost 21 Jun 2020 Sermon

3rd Sunday after Pentecost 21.6.20 Hidden sins

Who can understand sins? from my secret ones cleanse me, O Lord (Ps 18,12).

The epistle today says the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion ( 1P 5,8).

It would be easier for us if the devil were as visible and audible as a roaring lion! We have enough sense to run away from a real roaring lion, but the devil is a more subtle adversary.

‘Roaring lion’ refers only to the ferocity of the devil. He is ferociously angry with us, as he seeks to do us as much harm as possible. This realization should sober us.

We humans are too inclined to rely on our sense experience. If we can see a danger we respond; if not we become complacent.

This is why there are so many warnings in the Scriptures about being ready even though nothing seems to be happening. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mt 24,44)

Instead, be like the wise virgins (Mt 25,1-13) or the industrious servants who are ready when the master returns. (Mt 24,45-47).

The devil does not want to be detected. He will work quietly to unpick the threads of our world, and lure everyone into complacent abandonment of previously held beliefs.

So we see a decline in morality and faith on many levels: attack on family, life, truth, self-control etc.

Things which were considered sinful are no longer so considered (even though they are still sins)

People are edging closer to hell but they cannot sense it; they cannot see the flames! Or hear the shrieks of the tormented souls.

If they could see and hear these things there would be no doubt a major repentance.

God wants us to come to repentance without needing such stimuli. He wants us to love Him for His own sake, and not just to keep out of  hell.

For us here, we do not need a vision of hell to keep us on the straight and narrow. We are  not killing and robbing – do we need to change anything?

Back to those  secret sins - if the devil is a lion he is also a snake, meaning sneaky.

He has ways to tempt us based on our weakest points. So we can be proud, unforgiving, vain, lazy, lustful, self-serving and a host of similar things, which may not look like much, but can cumulatively lead us astray.

We will detect these things if we are attentive in prayer and meditation on the ways of God.

We will learn how to go against the tide of popular opinion. We will learn how to make decisions based on God's truth, and not just passion or sentiment.

We call on the angels and saints to help. Our side has invisible forces too and is strong enough to expose the deceptions of the devil. They pray for us; they give us good example. What they did we can do. Once we see those deceptions we are not going to fall for them. We will walk in the light. (1 Jn 1,5-7)

All sins, hidden or not, can be swept away by the infinite love of Christ, who seeks out the lost (Gospel)

If only one turns to Him, even in partial recognition of his need, then things will happen.

If God is seeking us, we can help greatly by seeking Him. This will accelerate the process.

The Sacred Heart burns with love for lost souls, confused and broken by adversity. Come to Me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11, 28-30)