Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Mass times

Mass times over Christmas

Times for Latin Masses over the Christmas period are the same as they normally are; but just to make sure here is each day listed:

Sun 25 Dec 8am St Monica's and 5pm Sacred Heart, Hindmarsh
Mon 26 Dec 8am St Monica's
Tue 27 Dec 6.45am St Monica's
Wed 28 Dec 8am St Monica's
Thu 29 Dec 8am St Monica's
Fri 30 Dec St Monica's
Sat 31 Dec 8am St Monica's
Sun 1 Jan 8am St Monica's and 5pm Sacred Heart, Hindmarsh

Christmas greetings and blessings to all!

4th Sunday of Advent 18 Dec 2011 Sermon

4th Sunday of Advent 18.12.11 Time

Our Lord once prophesied that when He would return the people would be as in Noah’s day, eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage. In other words they would be unready for Him because too preoccupied with everything else.

It appears that He expects us to be looking out for Him at all times, no matter what other activities we may be involved in. He knows there are many things we have to attend to. A lot of them would themselves be religious obligations, in no way incompatible with waiting for Him.

He is not asking us to do nothing but look out the window for His return. What He is asking for is that we have a clear sense of priority in our desires and expectations.

That no matter what we do in this life it be our paramount concern to do the will of God, to be on good terms with Him at all times, to be ready to meet Him, either in death or in His second coming.

From our point of view the difficulty arises that the longer things go on the more accustomed we become to our own routines and patterns. We may be aware of the Last Judgment and all that goes with that but in our hearts we are far more interested in the everyday comings and goings of life. Who wins the football, what the stock market is doing, preparing for the daughter’s wedding, planning the next holiday and a hundred other things.

If we get too comfortable with our routine we start to see any intervention of Our Lord as an interruption, an unwelcome intrusion into what we have come to see as important.

This is the attitude we must avoid. No matter what projects we have on hand, what ambitions or plans we may have formed (even good and legitimate things) – we must be ready to give it all up at a moment’s notice. If it be God’s will.

And further to this that we would not see any unusual activity from God as an interruption or a nuisance. So if your daughter is getting married the next day and the world suddenly ends you say, that’s fine with me.

Whose time is it anyway? We think it is our time to dispose of as we wish, but all of it belongs to God.

So whether we ignore God or we fit Him in somehow – these are both the wrong attitude.

What should we do instead? Give Him first use of our time. Begin and end all things with prayer, and some more in between.

Give Him first choice on all our plans and ambitions. The phrase ‘God willing’, which itself can be just a formality, needs to be re-established in its original force. I might be planning to go to Europe tomorrow, God willing. If He does not will it, I do not will it either.

There is a wrestling match going on here. His will or mine. His time or mine.

How do we yield gladly to him? If we draw close enough to Him we start to see things His way. This is what prayer does, and the sacraments. This is preparing the way, as St John the Baptist tells us. So that the way is always open, the way from God’s heart to my heart.

We have a long way to go to get this right. To live in daily closeness to God’s will, that we are ready no matter what we are doing, to get up and change course, and that without complaining or arguing.

It must be this state of mind in which we find Mary and Joseph who were both able to adapt so easily to the unusual requests made of them regarding the birth of Our Lord. How would we go if an angel appeared to us with a direct request from Heaven?

We can be sure that God’s plans for us will bring us to a much happier state than anything we could achieve by ourselves.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

3rd Sunday of Advent 11 Dec 2011 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Advent 11.12.11 Emerging joy

Whatever our age we have never seen the world looking as it should – according to the prophecies - swords turned into ploughshares, lion and lamb playing together etc.

Instead we have suicide bombers, murders, cruelty, and all manner of such things. It is fairly obvious the world is not what it should be.

Yet we are told to rejoice! How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land, as the Israelites once asked? How can we be happy when so much is wrong around us?

We have never experienced the world the way it is supposed to be. The crucial point of decision is do we despair of things ever being better? Or do we believe it really is possible to have a better world and we work towards it? Despair or Hope? Which way do we go?

To believe in something we have never seen is difficult, but with sufficient grace and signs along the way it is possible.

We may never have seen such a world but it does exist already: in Heaven. Fine, we might say, but that is out of our reach.

No, the life of heaven intermingles with life here. We can claim some share of heaven whenever we pray. If we pray, thy kingdom come, some of it does come.

Also it is comforting to know that there is a place which is all good and only good things happen there. This tells us at least on principle that goodness can exist unopposed.

There is not some law of nature that a certain amount of things must go wrong, or that a certain number of people must be bad.

Our task then is to bring more goodness into this world. There is no shortage of it; just a shortage here.

We are not just wishing for better things. We have the means to make it happen, the power of Christ working in us and through us, transforming us within, changing the way we think; giving us the capacity to love, to suffer, to persevere.

We can claim the joy in two ways:
One, by getting the little things right. By seeking to do everything according to His will. We might think this is a very slow way of healing the world, but it is a good thing to do anyway, and if it caught on there would be massive transformation.

Take the simple example of voting. One vote does not mean much but millions of ‘one votes’ do. Everything we do, for good or evil, affects the whole world. We make the world better every time we get something right according to the will of God.

The other way we can claim the joy is to realize that God holds all the aces. He has the power to make things right if we will not do it first. So He reserves the right to come again and claim His creation. He will come to judge the living and the dead. All evil will disappear before Him. All good will be rewarded.

He will return either way, with or without public support. If we do welcome Him He will probably come sooner and much more happily for all concerned.

Meanwhile the crucial thing for us is to believe, hope, and trust no matter what the present circumstances.

If we have hope we have joy. Not the joy of grinning from ear to ear or dancing in the street, but a deep-rooted joy that will enable us to persevere through difficulties, ironing out our faults, encouraging each other – a serene joy that will sustain us until things actually do get better.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come into our hearts; come into our world.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

2nd Sunday of Advent 4 Dec 2011 Sermon

2nd Sunday of Advent 4.12.11 Repentance

I recall from my childhood that we had parish Missions, which were a concentrated set of talks given to a parish over two or three days. In those days the topics of the Mission were very much on the need to repent, the danger of hell, the suddenness of death and the like.

You might think that from such ominous topics the crowds at these events would be down, but no, they were overflowing. I recall at one time the church itself was full so they had to broadcast the talks to the overflow crowd in the classrooms of the adjoining school.

So many people wanted to hear about hell and their own chances of going there!

And in today’s Gospel we have a similar phenomenon in regard to John the Baptist. People would flock to him out there in the desert, mainly to be told they were a bunch of sinners who had better look out for themselves if they knew what was good for them.

And they loved it! Even the soldiers would ask him, what about us, what must we do?

What is it with human nature that we are so interested in finding out what is wrong with us?

It really indicates a belief that we are capable of better than we presently have achieved. We aspire to higher things, a better way of life, a higher standard of morality; to breathe cleaner air.

We sense in our hearts that it is possible for the world to be a better place, and we also sense that the people in the world could be better.

The environmental movement wants to clean up the rivers and the atmosphere. We all want that much, but one step better still would be to clean up the moral atmosphere, to cleanse the hearts and minds of people of all trace of hatred, malice, lust etc.

This is what St John the Baptist was offering to people. If he tells them how bad they are it is only so that they can see the way clear to being good. The same with the people who flocked to the parish missions.

Twenty years later when I was a priest, I heard the same religious order giving a Mission in my parish, only this time there was no talk of sin or hell, only how much God loves us. The crowds were down this time!

We cannot survive on a diet of love alone, or at least only talking about love. Love is the ultimate thing after all, but it has to be real love, and this can be achieved only when we remove all the falsehood from our lives.

So today we gather here, and I won’t say that you are bad people only fit for hell, but I know that every one of us here could do with a greater share of God’s grace, that we all have bad habits that could be turned into virtues; and that even what is good about us could be better.

We need to know what is wrong with us so we can fix it. And if we can fix it we will be much happier than we were before.

Today’s world - and much of the Church as well - deals with guilt simply by denying it. Don’t let your mind dwell on negative things. Just look at the positives.

But that is like saying, if you have an arrow in your back, don't think about it, just dwell on how healthy the rest of your body is.

No, we have to get the arrow out; remove the poison of sin, repent, confess, and experience the joy of being forgiven and the new confidence that comes with that of being able to live a better life: better in both senses of morally better and of being happier.

This is what we have been hungering for all along; what all the world wants if they only knew where to look.

As John the Baptist puts it, so must we do: "You offspring of vipers, who has showed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance (Lk 3,7-8).

No Mass Monday 5th

There will be no Mass at St Monica's Monday 5th December. Other times are the same.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

1st Sunday of Advent 27 Nov 2011 Sermon

1st Sunday of Advent 27.11.11 Our own Advent

Consider: if we knew that the world was ending tomorrow what would we do? I think we would be looking around for the nearest Confession, saying a few Rosaries, going to Masses, pleading for mercy.

What if we knew for certain that the world would not end for a long long time? So then we might relax and not go to Confession and all the rest.

Wrong answer! We would do the same things as in the first case. Always we should be looking to draw closer to God than we are at the moment - every day, whether it be the Last day or not.

Our religion is not meant to be an exercise of cleverness, timing repentance just in time to make the cut.

Some people repent at the last minute and it is possible to be saved that way, but it is not recommended we rely on that approach. Last minute repentance is better than no repentance, but better by far if we repent now.

We repent, not to beat the system, but so that we learn to love God for His own sake, seeking to please Him at all times. To love Him as He should be loved.

We want to reach that level of spiritual maturity whereby we behave the same whether it is the Last Day or any other day; whether in private or public, in church or outside, on special days or ordinary days.

Our faith needs to be something inside us so that we are not just putting on a performance, but expressing real belief that will govern the way we live - this is genuine religion.

At this time of the year we focus more on the last things: there are warnings and threats worked into that.

If we need to be threatened to turn from bad to good then so be it. If we have moved beyond the need for threats then it is less a matter of fear and more about loving Christ.

The Gospel tells us to welcome the coming of Christ. Hold your heads high. We have nothing to fear if we really love Him.

There is talk of stars falling and cosmic upheavals but the biggest change is in the soul of the sinner, when our own desires change. We are looking forward to an end of sin, light winning out over darkness, a new tomorrow. We can have our own Advent.

We do not have to wait for Christ to come again to see some of these changes. We can anticipate His coming by being fully attuned to Him. So that when He does come in external reality we are not embarrassed, shocked, ashamed, but absolutely at one with Him.

The timing of His coming might surprise us but it will not embarrass us.

We will not fear Him as a lazy servant might fear the return of his master. If we are serving Him every day then every day we are ready to welcome Him.

There are things out of our control, many things, but this much we can do: simply do every action, large and small, according to God’s will.

People will always be speculating about dates. We should not get too excited by predictions; but we should get excited by the coming of Christ, His final glorious coming, and in the meantime His coming to each of us, transforming us within.

Whether He comes tomorrow or in a thousand years time: we are ready to receive Him.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Last Sunday after Pentecost 20 Nov 2011 Sermon

Last Sunday after Pentecost 20.11.11 Love casts out fear

Today we have a rather alarming Gospel passage. All about destruction and upheaval, and what will happen to us if we are not right with God at the time of Judgment.

There are many things we could be afraid about if we allow ourselves to think about them. There are many things that can go wrong.
We could suffer at the hands of other people: war, terrorism, crime...
At the hands of Nature: earthquakes, floods, fires...asteroids
And, most formidable of all, directly at God’s hands: fire from heaven, plagues, threats we have never encountered before.

So, to be sure, a lot of things can go wrong

But then comes the reassuring word: Do not be afraid. Constantly we are told this throughout the Bible. Our Lord Himself says it often: Courage, It is I. Why did you doubt, you men of little faith? Be not afraid...

How can we be so calm when there is so much evil that can happen to us?

One way to avoid fear is just not to think about these things. To be ‘philosophical’. If an earthquake gets me, bad luck. Gotta go some time. If your number is up, it is up. That sort of statement. So much for human and natural causes of evil.

And as to divine punishment, well nobody still thinks that God punishes (they say).

There is a much better way to overcome fear. Instead of hiding from God, trying to keep Him at bay, we can develop love for Him. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4,18). If we have enough love for God we can deal with anything - the fear of dying, of harm, of the unknown, of the future...

When we love Him enough we also trust in Him, that He would not abandon us; that He would help us through whatever difficulty arises, even death itself.

As to the threatened disasters, these will happen only if we do not turn to God, so we do turn to Him and these things need not happen.

Or, if they still do happen, we will be given grace to cope, and come through triumphant.

We become familiar with God; no longer seeing Him as remote. He becomes part of our ordinary life; we communicate with Him on a constant basis. We are at ease with Him, not in a complacent way, but in a serious, realistic way, based on humility and really trying to get things right.

The reason God says such things as in today’s Gospel is to motivate us to true relationship with Him.

He is saying, If you are separate from Me you will have great trouble. But if united you will have joy.

The two alternatives are so different that it must claim our attention.

We have to be aware of the negative as an extra incentive to seek the positive. It is better to focus on the joyful, but not to the point that we deny there is a negative side, trying to sweep it under the carpet.

Fear can be an initial motivation in religious life but we should not stay at that level. Our faith is meant to mature to a higher level, based on love.

If we could increase our holiness and win others over we can rewrite the script for the future.

We are not just passive objects tossed around by fate, but we can actively form the events of the future.

May God bring us to full union with Him and to a world which can welcome His coming without fear.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

22nd Sunday after Pentecost 13 Nov 2011 Sermon

22nd Sunday after Pentecost 13.11.11 God and Caesar

The world financial crisis is in the news, as well as the stock markets and the economy generally. Our society makes a lot of fuss about money.

We spend a lot of time giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, maybe not so much to God what is God’s.

For many people there is nothing at all that belongs to God; it is all for Caesar, all about making money, getting on in this life. Money is all there is.

And this is why it takes up so much of our news services and so much of human time and effort.

We are not getting the balance right. There is too much Caesar and not enough God.

The love of money is the root of all evil, St Paul says (1 Tm 6,10). Notice he does not say, Money is the root of all evil. Money is just a medium of exchange; it facilitates the flow of goods and services. It is just there to serve our needs.

But like anything it can be misused. When it is used as a way of taking advantage of others, improving one’s own position at the expense of others – then we have the beginnings of abuse.

For the world financial system by far the biggest problem is the presence of greed - which can lead to crime, and then every kind of imbalance.

When money becomes a false god in pursuit of other false gods such as status, pleasure, possessions, then we have trouble.

When people love money too much, they love each other too little (to say nothing of loving God.)

The system is in crisis because we cannot and do not trust each other.

We would be able to trust each other if we observed the other half of Our Lord’s command: to give to God what is God’s. If we got back to where it all started. God has given us good things for free, abundant resources (cf the Psalms, such as Ps 104).

To give God what is His: this means in its most obvious sense, to give Him worship, trust, obedience, allegiance.

In doing this much we will be less preoccupied about earthly possessions.

To take the command a little further: one thing that belongs to God is His view of humanity.
We owe it to Him to set up a world where everyone looks out for the needs of everyone else; so that no one is dying of hunger, or lack of shelter; that everyone has enough to live on in dignity.

It is His world and the people are His children. We can give Him the pleasure of seeing His own children looking after each other.

Money is just there to be used for this higher end. We are stewards of all God’s creation and in particular this very powerful agent, which can be used in so many ways.

It is not necessary that we all have the same amount; just so long as everyone has enough. It is not a sin to be rich as long as the person realizes higher obligations, giving God what is His.

The Bible warns us against putting too much trust in riches ‘even when they increase’.

This is another temptation: self-reliance. I don’t need God because I have plenty of money.

The remedy: humility and childlike simplicity. Look how the sun shines and rain falls. Let God be God and look towards Him to provide for us as He does for the lilies of the field.

It gets back to that amount of simplicity. Simply do not grasp more than we need and there will be enough for all.

If we do give to God we will certainly get more back than we give.

In the meantime we will have to put up with the distorted values of the world as so many continue to miss the point. May all see, sooner or later, the futility of such a life, and seek the true riches of Heaven.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

21st Sunday after Pentecost 6 Nov 2011 Sermon

21st Sunday after Pentecost 6.11.11 Enough for all

This parable (The Unforgiving Debtor) makes so much sense when we hear it, yet we find its message so hard to apply in our own lives.

As we hear the story it is obvious what the first debtor should do: forgive the second. Out of gratitude for having been forgiven so much he should have been willing to forgive the second debt (the first debt being 600,000 times greater). A million dollars as against $1.66!

So should we be willing to forgive those who offend us when we have been forgiven so much more by God.

One lesson here is that we should cultivate gratitude for being forgiven. It is no light matter to have our sins removed so easily as it appears to happen.

We do not find it so easy to have our financial debts removed. It would be nice if we could clear all our bills by just going into a room and saying we are sorry! I don’t think many commercial concerns would be so forgiving as God is.

Of course there is some payment required from us on our debts to God, and this takes the form of the penance we do for sins committed and the desire to atone for those sins by doing as much good as possible. So we do not get off entirely free but even here the work required from us is so light by comparison.

We have to cultivate this sense of gratitude otherwise it can be easily lost in the hurry of life. We can have our sins cleared away without much thought, more or less taking it for granted. We are so accustomed to the idea that God readily forgives us we might not stop and wonder what a great privilege it is.

This, presumably, was the first debtor’s problem. He took his forgiveness lightly and did not let it sink into his consciousness. If he had been more grateful he would have been more generous with the second debtor.

We have to be grateful, and generous.

God is generous. He asks us to do a little of the same as He does, only He does a lot more. He can forgive millions, billions of sins a day, and we can find it hard to forgive one sin from years ago.

We need a boost to our generosity of spirit. We need not begrudge throwing a little mercy around. It is not ours in the first place; it comes from God. If we compare it with money a major difference is that Mercy is in unlimited supply.

We can hand out mercy to all comers and we never lose anything ourselves; in fact, we gain.

We come to desire that others receive mercy as much as we want it for ourselves. Our familiar prayers are in the plural – forgive us our trespasses; pray for us sinners now; Lamb of God ... have mercy on us; May almighty God have mercy on us... etc

It would be very strange if we were to say to the Lamb of God: Have mercy on me, and only me! No, we have to wish that mercy on others also, including those who have offended us.

We have nothing to lose if other people are forgiven. We don’t have to fight over who gets God’s mercy. There is enough for all.

To begrudge forgiveness to another is really the equivalent of wanting that person to stay ‘bad’, at least in our estimation. But how do we gain by keeping others bad? If we let them turn good we would like them a lot more and everyone gains. There is enough for everyone and more besides.

So we can pray with true conviction and increasing desire: Lord, have mercy on us.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Feast of Christ the King 30 Oct 2011 Sermon

Christ the King 30.10.11

Throughout history kings have plotted and murdered their way to the throne. Now we do not have so many kings; most countries have Prime Ministers or Presidents. There are not so many murders but still plenty of plotting and nastiness in operation.

Into all this comes a very different sort of King, whose kingdom is not of this world. Not of this world in two senses: that it is not based on greed and violence; and also (sadly) that not many people seem to understand or want this man as their King; the world has largely rejected, and still does reject Him.

The way of the world is to seek power for one’s own benefit. So if I try to be king it is for my benefit not that of the people whose king I will be.

The way of Christ is to be king so that He can serve the people. He is interested in them rather than Himself.

He was humble, riding on a donkey. He washed the feet of His disciples. He was willing to die for them, and to endure much injustice in the process.

Not many kings are that humble, nor that interested in their people.

In the Christian way, to rule is to serve. The Pope is called the Servant of the servants of God. The higher up the ladder we are the more humble we need to be; to be humble enough to recognize that the ‘power’ I possess is only delegated from God and is to be used entirely according to His will. I am only His delegate.

The world would run a lot better if every ruler was like this!

It helps if the people behave too.

We need from both rulers and ruled a change of heart, a change of mentality. For too long we have been thinking the other way, asserting ourselves in a dog-eat-dog world, trying to eat before we are eaten.

But this change has to come from within; it has to be entirely voluntary to take full effect.

It is not just a matter of passing laws or appealing to people’s good nature. There has to be something acting on us that will make us see things differently. This something is the grace of Christ, the same King, who can infuse His grace into us, motivating and enabling us to live in a better way.

An interior renewal of each person is required, so that we will be as humble as the King and as concerned for one another as He was.

The King did what He did to reconcile us with God but also to teach us how to live.
And not only to teach us but to enable us. As we receive Him in Holy Communion and interact with Him in prayer and other sacraments, we are gradually set free from all the false ways we have learnt from the world.

As we take on the mind of Christ we become secure in Him, in His promises of eternal happiness; in His view of the other person, not as a competitor to be overcome, but as a brother in need.

Everyone wishes that the world would run on a more peaceful path than it does; that there would be less crime, war, hate etc. The change can come about only when enough people turn to the King of all creation, and see things His way. This sort of change cannot be legislated. Unless we accept His ways we will continue to grasp for security and happiness in the ways of this world, building houses on sand.

There will come a time when the King returns in glory. At that time those who love Him will rejoice; those who have rejected Him will be dismayed. While there is still time may every person come to a willing submission to Him in their own heart and mind.

May every knee bow before Him and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Mass times for All Saints, All Souls

Mass times for All Saints and All Souls Day: Latin Mass, Adelaide

Tuesday 1st November: All Saints Day: Mass St Monica's 6.45AM & Holy Name 6.30PM.

Wednesday 2nd November: All Souls Day: Mass St Monica's 8AM; Holy Name 11AM & 6.30PM

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

19th Sunday after Pentecost 23 Oct 2011 Sermon

19th Sunday after Pentecost 23.10.11 The whole truth

A social worker said to me recently that in her job she mixed with many clergy and she did not care what denomination they might be; she just works with all of them. This is a very typical comment these days, expressing a sort of ecumenical openness to all comers.

It is a good thing to respect people for their basic worth and dignity. However it does not follow that one’s religion is a matter of secondary or no importance. This would be faulty logic. It is right to want to respect everyone but wrong if in doing that we lose sight of the importance of truth in our spiritual lives.

We used to have a big problem with sectarianism in Australia, where Catholics and Protestants were openly hostile to each other. We are largely over that problem but now we might have the opposite one instead: namely, religious indifferentism.

In the interests of keeping the peace we have reached a point where many no longer think it matters in the least what people actually believe, as long as they are allowed to believe it!
Whether the beliefs are actually right or wrong is not an issue.

In fact, though, the possessing of religious truth is a matter of utmost importance. For one thing our salvation could be at stake. If we do not know the truth of what we should believe or how we should behave how can we know if we are at rights with God?

For another thing, and even more important, God deserves our best efforts to know as much about Him as possible and to have accurate knowledge. We pursue accuracy in all sorts of other fields, such as science, engineering, courts of law, calculating interest rates, keeping statistics, counting votes – surely we can do as much for God Himself.

In the same exaggerated ecumenical spirit it is considered that any effort to convince others of the truth of one’s own beliefs is ‘poor form’, a violation of the other’s right to privacy. It is also considered as a kind of arrogance. Who do you think you are to be telling me what to believe?

But if what we believe is true should we not try to tell others about it? If we had discovered a medicine that would cure all the diseases of the world would we not make it known? We have something better still, a medicine which will bring eternal happiness.

It may be we will be interrupting people’s lives and their established order but they will thank us later. The apostles did not apologise for bringing the Gospel to other nations; nor did Our Lord Himself apologize for bringing a New Covenant.

As to being arrogant we are not just lecturing people what to believe. True religion should also produce true love, and true behaviour. If we could manage to live what we believe there would be no contradictions. The truth of the Gospel remains intact, whether we live it or not; but if we want to ‘sell’ it we must live it better, along the lines of today’s Epistle: no lying, stealing, unjust anger etc.

The lady who works with all ‘denominations’ must think that ‘Catholic’ is just one of many versions of Christianity. Many people think this, including a lot of Catholics.

But it is not so. We are not just a ‘denomination’. The Catholic Church is simply THE Church, the only Church. The others are ‘ecclesial communities’ but not in full union with the Church. They may be better people than we are but they are in a leaky boat. We need both the boat and the people to be good!

In any case what could be better for overall tolerance than if we all believed the same things? So the desire for the Catholic Church to include every person in the world is, among other things, a push for greater unity and peace.

Our Lord calls us to the banquet (today’s Gospel). This presupposes that we are all coming to the same thing, all of one mind. With His help we can be truly one, in belief and action.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

18th Sunday after Pentecost 16 Oct 2011 Sermon

18th Sunday after Pentecost 16.10.11 Forgiveness

Which is easier to say? ‘Your sins are forgiven’ is easier to say insofar as it cannot be verified externally that anything has happened.

So Our Lord gives another command which can be verified – ‘Stand up and walk’ - which indicates His authority to forgive sins. It is not everyone who can cure a sickness with a word! If He can do such things in the physical world it can be presumed He has the same power in the spiritual world.

Our Lord has authority to forgive sins because He has authority over the whole world and everything in it. It is all His – every person, every thing, every nation, organization, the public domain, the private, the individual, the communal. All things are open to His eye and subject to His authority.

Every sin affects Him directly because it involves something that belongs to Him. There is nothing ‘private’ from Him. Sometimes people try to justify behaviour by saying it does not harm anyone else. So if I take drugs for instance, it is my decision and my body, so no one else should get excited. Or an abortion is just a decision for the woman concerned: it is her body after all.

But everything belongs to God. My body is His body. My house is His house. My time is His time. There is no way we can quarantine some part of our existence from His influence.

This is what makes a sin a sin: that we are somehow infringing on His rights. When we sin we are probably offending other people but always offending Our Lord.

Since He is personally involved He has the authority to forgive sin, and He does this with great generosity.

When He forgives He is bringing back to life. He is offering His love to the sinner and this love has the effect of restoring the sinner to union with Himself, which we call sanctifying grace, or life in the soul. Like a branch attached to the tree, we are alive again.

It is like a resurrection of the body, but better still.

He forgives ‘in potential’ every sin. But for the forgiveness to take effect the sinner has to ask for mercy. Not everyone is willing to do that, for all sorts of reasons.

But when they do ask they will receive and they are brought back to life or to a much healthier state.

In the meantime, until they ask for mercy, Our Lord will continue to offer it. He waits for that interior light to switch on, moving first to shame for sin and then to the joy of being forgiven.

This is probably the result of someone else’s prayers. Like a mother for instance. We pray for each other’s children, for all the children of the world that they will understand the dimensions of sin; how ugly and damaging it is; how glorious it is to be forgiven.

We are the man on the stretcher insofar as we all need forgiveness. We are the friends bringing the man insofar as we pray for each other.

The Lord loves us enough to forgive us; now we have to love Him enough to receive that forgiveness, and be changed internally so that we do not want to sin again.

We are His property; we have been bought and paid for. Everything is His. All the better for us.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

17th Sunday after Pentecost 9 Oct 2011 Sermon

17th Sunday after Pentecost 9.10.11 God loved us first

We are told to love God and then to love Neighbour. These are both difficult commands in different ways.

Loving God is easy insofar as God is loveable, being perfect in every way. But difficult in that God is invisible, intangible, infinitely superior to us. He can seem remote from us, and it is hard to love someone remote.

Loving Neighbour is the reverse problem. He is visible enough, but not so perfect! With regard to neighbours it is their imperfections that make them hard to love. We are not drawn to people who annoy us in any way.

So both these commands are challenging. Yet they are made a lot easier when we realize that God has loved us first.

In telling us to love Him and others He is really just saying: receive My love, and reflect it back to Me and to others.

So we go back one stage and now the task is to receive the love of God. This is a lot easier, but even this can be tricky.

To receive the love of God we just have to recognize His goodness at work in the world, and in our lives. To realize that every good thing we have is from Him and by His gracious will.

We are inclined to resent God when things go wrong, but we really should be thanking Him that there are any ‘things’ in the first place.

What goes wrong is just what has been right undergoing some distortion due to human sin, but the basic goodness of the world is still perceptible and retrievable.

God has loved us first. If we can only realize that and imprint it on our memory we will then have sufficient motivation to love (thank, praise) Him in return and we will even have enough goodwill left over to extend to our neighbours.

When we are grumpy with others it is a sure sign that we are not sufficiently grounded in the love of God. We have forgotten for the present how lucky we are to be alive, how everything about our world is pure grace from God (grace as in gratuitous).

This much we can say just for Creation. If we consider Salvation that is one better still. God has not only made us but saved us. He is willing to forgive our sins when in justice He would be entitled to obliterate us many times over.

This also proves His love. For God so loved the world...

That we might have eternal life, better than life here, in a place more beautiful than here.

If we allow these truths to sink in we will never complain again about anything.

To love God we simply have to reflect something of what He has given us. In the Mass, for example, we offer Him the sacrifice which He has provided for us. It is not much effort on our part; we just have to let ourselves be carried.

To love Neighbour we simply have to remember how well we have been treated by God and offer the same sort of generosity to others. Like the servant who had been forgiven a large debt should have forgiven the other servant a much smaller debt.

The grievances we find with others are so small compared with how much we have offended God.

So we are brought back to humility and gratitude.

We cannot begrudge some small return on all that has been lavished on us.

Many think these commands impossible. We love only those who love us, they say.

But if we give God enough room in our busy schedules to think about what He has done we will grow in love for Him and this will in turn put us in a much more patient mood with others, even the most difficult.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

16th Sunday after Pentecost 2 Oct 2011 Sermon

16th Sunday after Pentecost 2.10.11 Let God rule

Often we hear in political news that two or more people are contesting leadership of a party. When two or more people want a place and there is room for only one – that leads to tension.

Today’s Gospel parable refers to any such situation when people are striving for a greater slice of the pie than they presently have; wanting something more.

When people claim a higher place than they deserve they will probably have to take a humiliating fall.

Not everyone is ambitious for high office. Most people are probably happy just to find a level where they can make enough money, have some sort of recognition from others, and keep some sort of self-respect in the process.

So we might think ourselves to be humble enough in terms of today’s parable. But there is another power struggle going on that we might not be aware of.

And that is the struggle between the human race and Almighty God, for control of this world, for control of our own lives and destiny.

God has given us intelligence (enough to be dangerous) and free will. But because of these gifts we are in a position to rebel against Him; and we often do.

At such a point we need humility to take the lower place, deferring to a greater mind.

So who is running my life? Is it me or God? Sometimes I obey Him; sometimes I claim sovereign control for myself (which usually amounts to sin).

We should just let Him run the whole thing but we find that very difficult – due to pride, or fear of what will happen.

On every possible occasion the Scriptures tell us to trust God; not to assert ourselves against Him, not resist His plans.

It is not just that we are a zillion times inferior to Him and that it is absurd for the lesser to try to usurp the greater. It is also that God loves us and can do far more good for us than we could ever achieve for ourselves.

So in today’s Epistle we have St Paul encouraging us to explore more fully the nature of God, to get to know Him better. If we are resisting Him then it is plain we don’t yet know Him well enough. If we knew him better we would willingly submit ourselves to Him, just as they do in heaven.
St Paul prays we get to know Him better. That is what we have to do as well. Pray. And receive sacraments, and obey the will of God, even if it is against the grain to begin with. If we persevere in seeking Him out we will come to know Him and love Him.

Will we do these things? Each must decide for himself.

God will help us if we ask Him. By His grace we can get used to Him and the way He works and the easier it becomes for us to get the right balance.

The main thing is to get used to the idea that He is on our side. He is to be sought out rather than avoided.

He knows better than we do how to run our lives, and the whole universe for that matter.

We are not to seek a higher place if motivated by pride or greed, but we can seek a better life; a greater understanding of God, a closer union with Him.

15th Sunday after Pentecost 25 Sep 2011 Sermon

15th Sunday after Pentecost 25.9.11 Raising us to life

When Our Lord restored the son of the widow to life He was relieving that woman’s grief, but also giving us a symbol of His power over life and death.

He does not normally raise dead people back to life, not to this earthly life at least, but does often raise people back to life spiritually.

Every time He forgives sin He is raising back to life. We should rejoice in sin forgiven even more than we would rejoice if someone came back from the grave.

But we should also learn from the lesson that sin is a deadly thing, to be avoided in future.

God restores sons to Holy Mother Church by the forgiveness of sins. That is the crucial thing. To be away from God is to be dead; to be in union with Him is to be alive. We are like planets - the closer to the sun the warmer we are, the further away the colder and darker.

Generally people think far too much in physical terms and far too little in spiritual.

We try so hard to stay alive. We are careful crossing the street; we eat the proper food; we don’t go down dark alleys at midnight... but the soul is so neglected by comparison. So lightly do people take the spiritual dimension, so blithely do they disregard the fate of the soul; or they just assume it looks after itself somehow.

And how much grief is poured out over physical death while the death caused by sin is missed altogether!

We want healing for our aches and pains but healing of the soul is always more important.

(Of course we can be careful about both body and soul and proper care for the body does itself have a spiritual dimension via the fifth commandment. Also we could say that our bodies would be healthier if we lived with less sin.)

But how do we heal the soul? In one way it is easier, in another way harder to heal the soul. It is easy in terms of confession with sincere contrition. But harder if we mean a deeper healing which requires a change of heart, where the sin came from.

When we go to confession it is not just to be forgiven but to ask for the strength not to sin again. What can I do differently?

So the healing of the soul has two levels: the removal of sin and the firm purpose of amendment. I will not sin again.

But though there are many aspects to being holy there is an essential simplicity in that we can just come to Jesus with all our burdens, and be forgiven freely.

Then we can look for the deeper solutions - what needs to change in our lives etc.

Our Lord said: I came that they may have life and have it to the full.

When it is said that someone lived life to the full it usually means the person did a lot of adventurous things: but was he doing the will of God, which really would be living to the full?

This is where we find how alive we are or not. It is not how many things we do or how many places we go or people we know: it is whether or not we have lived in union with God and His holy will.

We can start that anytime, but sooner is better. Resurrection begins when we claim the life of God to be in us. Sanctifying grace. This must be our first priority.

Each of us is the ‘son’ in this story, that Jesus wants to raise from death (in all its senses).

And collectively we are the Mother (Church) rejoicing when others sons are brought back to life.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

14th Sunday after Pentecost 18 Sep 2011 Sermon

14th Sunday after Pentecost 18.9.11 Cynicism

In a world where words are many but the truth is not so frequent it is easy to become cynical about people, their intentions, their reliability; to be cynical about religion itself.

This cynicism can take two forms:
One is to become anti-Church altogether, seizing on every failure by individual Christians as proof that our religion is fraudulent or an illusion. There is no God, no ultimate truth, they say.

Another is when people within the Church say it is impossible to be as good as the Gospel demands; and instead they only partially commit to pursuing the will of God. This is a pragmatic approach; in attempting to be ‘realistic’ they deny the power of God to transform us as people.

Both these views tend to be self-fulfilling. If I live as though there is no God or as if He is not relevant to my life then my relationship with Him will be affected. I will not be calling on His help, will not be asking His forgiveness; will not be likely to agree with His commandments, let alone keep them.

The fact is that no matter how poorly people behave, no matter how bitter against God and His Church people become, it is possible for us to live good lives, to uproot sin; it is possible for the Church to be the purified Bride of Christ.

In Adelaide just lately there has been talk of scandals regarding priests. Across the world for the last decade we have heard of many such scandals. These things are tragic. But they do not change the truth about God himself, nor His promises.

We must not allow the misbehaviour of other disciples to weaken or to extinguish our faith.

If anything it should strengthen our resolve to do better. The fall of another reminds us of two things: that there is an ideal that we should be striving for; and that it is very easy to fall from grace and fail to reach that ideal.

So we believe in the good as attainable and we are made wiser in terms of how to achieve that good. We learn from our sins and mistakes. What can we do to make this less likely to happen again?

When confronted with failure we call more fully, more humbly on the power of God.

We call on Him for mercy for sins committed.

We call on Him for the grace that will change our hearts, so that we will recognize our sin and weep for it. That we will be genuinely contrite and see with new eyes the right way to go.

That we come to see the rightness and even the beauty of God’s commands, and thus be more likely to keep them.

We pray for each another; we exhort each other. We are capable of both good and evil. With a little attentiveness and divine help we can achieve the good.

Part of the process is not to let cynicism rob us of what is really possible as well as desirable.

If the Church were to close tomorrow many would cheer but it would not improve the state of the world.

We are offering the one light that will show the way out, the one real solution. We have only one Saviour. We cannot afford to block the one door to freedom.

We don't have to cover up or excuse fault in the Church. We can admit that bad things happen, even very bad things. All the more we can apply ourselves to repentance and reparation, and to avoiding repetition.

This Church, though full of sinners, does keep before the world the reality and goodness of God. The teaching is there; the graces are there. We know what we have to do and we are enabled to do it. If we resist all temptations to cynicism we will see better days.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

13th Sunday after Pentecost 11 Sep 2011 Sermon

13th Sunday after Pentecost 11.9.11

The story of the Ten Lepers challenges us to make sure we are not one of the nine who never came back to give thanks.

The ‘nine’ symbolise that part of the human race (probably nine tenths would be a fair estimate) which does not have much time for God.

If God has any purpose in the minds of such people He is there to fix their problems and once He has done that He can go back into recess. And if He does not fix the problems then He is guilty of letting them down!

How important it is for us to have the right attitude towards Almighty God. We have difficulty with this because we find His ways so mysterious, and so much is beyond our understanding.

It will help us to get onto the right wavelength with God if we can focus on what He wants to happen; on what He regards as important.

When God looks at human affairs what is He looking for?

While we are likely to be thinking about money, health, our houses, our cars, our football team, our social life etc etc, God is thinking about our souls, about whether we are in union with Him or not.

God values the things we value, where possible, but His main point is Salvation. That is the big one for Him. We are here on this earth to know, love, and serve God. We are preparing for heaven.

So we see that can be operating at different levels. Take the question of ‘being good’, holiness of life. How much of our attention goes on trying to become better people in terms of being kind, generous, merciful - as against making more money, or getting a better house and the like?

We might dismiss goodness as more or less looking after itself. It is something I could switch on if needed. But God regards this question as the most important.

So we can be at cross purposes with God. We wonder why He does not give us the things we ask for, while He wonders why we ask for the wrong things.

In the midst of all the confusion comes the real God seeking to direct us.

All He wants is for people to take Him seriously; and He will pour down lots more blessings on us if we do that, even the lesser blessings that we worry so much about now.

But if we put those lesser things before Him He might take them from us or withhold them when we ask for them - because if we deny Him we are denying the whole purpose of our existence.

We have to be like the one leper who did see further than his physical health to the state of his soul; who did see that it was necessary to worship God and thank Him.

It is not so hard to see this. It is a common experience in this life for people who have it all in terms of money and power still to feel an emptiness inside, a lack of purpose in their lives.

In our own lives we know that when we do something good, something that requires some sort of self-sacrifice – that action will bring more satisfaction than merely enjoying some physical or material experience.

We honour people in our history who have given themselves for others, not those who have been self-indulgent. We do not erect statues for people who have looked out only for themselves.

When we take the larger spiritual view we discover that we are grateful – grateful not just for this or that blessing but for the whole scheme of things. We can see past individual disappointments to the greatest good – union with God, now and in eternity.

Deo Gratias!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

12th Sunday after Pentecost 4 Sep 2011 Sermon

12th Sunday after Pentecost 4.9.11 Loving neighbours

There was a story during the week of a pensioner in New Zealand found in his apartment, having been dead for a year. Stories like that do emerge with some frequency.

The mayor of the place where the man lived said that people should take more notice of their neighbours. It may not be easy to do that.

In our current society there is a high value put on privacy and more and more places have big fences around them, and one cannot even reach the front door, but has to speak through an intercom at an outer gate.

For all the modern ways we have to communicate there is an increasing isolation and alienation in our societies.

So we come to today’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Who is our neighbour? Anyone and everyone; specifically whoever is near us at any given moment.

The Gospel actually demands more of us than just keeping a check on our neighbour to see if he is still alive.

It is a good thing to feed a hungry man, or to shelter a homeless one. But Christian obligation goes further than that.

We are to see other people in spiritual terms: to see that each person has a soul to be saved; that he is made in the image of God. If possible we will bring him not just physical care, not just friendship, but bring him the faith.

If we look at another person and try to assess what he needs? Maybe he looks down and out, lonely, sick... or maybe he looks prosperous and happy, well-fed. In either case, or any case, every person needs to know God, needs to be in union with Him.

And we do what we can to enable that to happen. It is no easy matter. It is not just problems of privacy and difficulty of communication that apply, but present day assumptions about ‘imposing’ our religion on others.

I am not saying we must go about preaching to our neighbours, but at least to be aware that faith is always what people need even if they don't know it, or even if they would actively deny it.

Whether we can reach them or not is another matter, but the basic need remains in place.

At least if we know it we will see people in a new light.

We, like everyone else, are tempted to be caught up in the rat race of modern life; to regard other people as just so many black ants that can be in the way of where we are trying to go.

It is so easy to be impersonal towards large numbers of people in all directions. Yet, if we pause to reflect we realize that every other person is just like we are.

Think of yourself and all your fears, hopes, joys, sorrows, achievements, disappointments - and then think that every other person you see has the same things, more or less.

We are all the same; all in the same boat with these things.

We learn to see ‘others’ as subjects not just objects.

Each person is a subject, a centre of many thoughts and desires; above all a soul that God Himself wants to win.

When we realize this we cannot be indifferent to any other person. We don't have time to get to know everyone but we can at least wish them well on the way to salvation.

We offer our prayers, sufferings, everything to help others on their way, as we hope they will do for us. So we develop and express our communal identity in the Church, truly the Body of Christ.

All the while, not neglecting the basic practical charity of looking out for each other.

Nobody will be left dead and alone if we live like this. We will know each other’s value.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

11th Sunday after Pentecost 28 Aug 2011 Sermon

11th Sunday after Pentecost 28.8.11 Healing the deaf

Why did Our Lord have to groan in the process of working this miracle? Healing deafness, if it were just a biological matter would be very easy for Our Lord. But the deafness that He really wants to heal is the obstinacy of the human heart, whereby people do not want to hear the truth.

All of us, who possess the Gospel, know the frustration of trying to convey the message to people who do not want to hear it. It could be a parent trying to tell children, or a teacher trying to tell students... if only you knew, if only you would listen... but often the resistance goes on.

Speak Lord Your servant is listening... as Samuel said to God, we must say in our time. That we be habitually attuned to the sound of His voice, in whatever form it might come. That we will be able instinctively to discern what is truly the word of God from what is false, from the voice of the world.

Before it demands anything of us, the word of God is Promise. He tells of His great love for us, and demonstrates through miracle that He is faithful to His people in every generation.

He instructs us that we can securely base our lives on His will; and if we do that He will bless us in abundance.

This is where one breakdown occurs. We do not believe the Promise. We launch into other lifestyles because we think that God is inactive or indifferent.

Then we come to the word of Command. God tells us to do certain things and avoid doing certain other things.

We fear this word too, because we fear the loss of freedom involved. We do not want to be restricted in our behaviour. We see the commands of God as a burden or a nuisance.

So we block out His word. We switch off the ears.

In all this God tries to heal us: to help us listen with the right attitude so that the words once again impact upon us. He heals us of the accumulated distortions of the years of our own lives and the centuries of the human race.

He wants to heal the abuse of the freedom, without taking away the freedom. To heal us of all the falsehood we have taken in over the years. False values, false logic.

For example, the arguments today over moral matters. People support euthanasia, or homosexual marriage.

They will say things like: a thing is ok if enough people think it is ok. So the newspapers hold a poll and if say 60% say yes to euthanasia then it must be alright. But where does that leave the voice of God? Or the objective value of human life which cannot be determined in a poll?

Or where, if they define homosexual behaviour as simply a preference does that leave the objective nature of man and woman – as written in out nature by God Himself?

So there is a lot of deafness around - false thinking - and it all compounds with one error paving the way for another.

Our Lord wants to heal our deafness. It requires unlearning all the errors we have picked up. It requires that we re-establish the basic principles involved.

We are here now with ears pinned back, wanting to hear the truth, willing to change anything.

First, may the Promise of the Lord sink deep within us: that we can be reassured of His unending love for us. We do not have to hide from Him.

Then, that we can hear His words of command, not as a burden but as a liberation. They are based on our true nature, so we will never feel more ourselves than when obeying this word from God.

Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

10th Sunday after Pentecost 21 Aug 2011 Sermon

10th Sunday after Pentecost 21.8.11 Reasons for hope

Take any large city and put 100,000 people into the main square. They could go on a rampage of destruction like the London riots, or they could go on a display of peace and goodwill, like in today’s World Youth Day finale in Madrid.

People are capable of both good and evil and we are not sure ourselves which way the general trend will go.

There is good in us but also bad: like two conflicting principles the two forces battle it out for supremacy. Sometimes one wins; sometimes the other.

The current WYD event will be interpreted differently by Catholics. Some will see it as a great sign of hope. Others will be more sceptical and say that once all the atmosphere has dissipated things will go back the way they were.

We cannot be naively optimistic in our assessment of human nature. We know there is a big difference between hugging a stranger in the euphoria of a big event and actually translating that sentiment into daily practice.

Yet whether or not people in general, or one person in particular, will improve – though it is an open question, it is not simply pot luck, a toss of the coin.

If we hit on the right formula we can make a spiritual improvement in our lives a certain result. We can guarantee we will become better people.

What is the formula? Union with God. People united with God are good and will do good things; no other way can we make sure progress.

We must be people who are humble enough to remember their origins (like today’s publican of the Gospel.)

He offered no fancy speeches, no bribes or inducements – he merely brought himself and cast himself down at the Lord’s feet.

It was genuine contrition, from the heart, and that is where its value comes from. Of all things that God asks of us it is this. If we cannot please Him in all things we can at least be genuinely sorry that we have not done so.

So, asking for mercy is the first prayer we need to make. Once we are forgiven we can then move on to other things.

If we remain humble we are always well placed to recover at any point if we have slipped and to reach greater heights if we have held firm.

God is not averse to using a bit of showmanship to get His point across. After all, consider some of the miracles He has worked in human history: such as with the Israelites in ancient times, the early Church in the time of the Apostles, and in the last century with appearances from Our Lady.WYD is just another spectacle, in one sense, but no less compelling for that.

But in the end no amount of signs and wonders can make a person humble unless the person himself consents.

This is where each of us (and we can only do this for ourselves) has to make the same prayer as the publican, if not in the same words, at least in the same sincerity.

This simple act will unlock great spiritual power.

So we can have hope for the human race and it is not just a toss of the coin. But it does depend on the individual response of millions of Christians, so it is a very sensitive business and could go in all directions at the same time.

At least we know what we have to do: Be contrite. That is the first thing and the building block for all else.

9th Sunday after Pentecost 14 Aug 2011 Sermon

9th Sunday after Pentecost 14.8.11 Society in tatters

‘English society in tatters’ read the newspaper billboard. It was referring to the riots during the past week. It implied that England was finished - certainly an exaggeration!

But at another level, less visible, their society may be in tatters after all. What about all the other problems? Even if there is no violence on the streets we still have alienation, divorce, abortion, drugs, suicide, etc etc.

And why do we have all these things? Some would say because we have economic inequality, the haves and the have-nots. Or racial troubles. These may be a factor.

But a more basic reason still is that English society, and all ‘western’ society does not sufficiently honour and obey the laws of God.

Any society, any group of people that breaks God’s laws - there will be disorder.
Cf epistle.

Why is it only when it spills onto the streets do we see it as a crisis? It is a crisis when in a quiet suburb people quietly drive up in their cars and walk into an abortion centre and have their babies killed. But that is seen as ‘normal’. So normal that the people who protest about this are considered the troublemakers.

The Gospel today refers to the impending destruction of Jerusalem, an event which did happen forty years after the time of Our Lord. The Jews, like everyone else, reacted to visible crises. When there was an actual invasion or a plague they would start repenting.

In the epistle a different generation of Jews were punished for turning to ‘forbidden things’, false gods. The punishment is sometimes quicker in coming than others but some sort of disorder must result whenever a people turns from the true God.

We might have control of the streets, but not of the underlying things. They are much harder to control. No amount of police on the streets will make people love one another, or worship the one true God. Maybe we need more priests on the street! Maybe not.

We certainly need more ‘religion’ on the street, if we understand that to mean genuine religion, the true faith: Not preaching, but everyone doing the will of God, on the streets, in homes and business places and everywhere. No lying, stealing, blaspheming, sexual aberrations etc.

This is what we need if we are going to get those ‘tatters’ back to shape, to restore a whole and healthy society.

Many would howl in protest that religion is the very last thing we want. It just makes people feel guilty, they would say. This is to look at the human side only.

With some justification people have trouble trusting priests and preachers. Most messiahs are false, after all. Only one can be true, and we know who that is.

His rule is not oppressive. We are never tempted beyond what we can bear, (Epistle). Everything He would tell us to do or not do is manageable and would bring happiness.

The streets would be safe and so would every other place. The peace of Christ would reign there.

In the meantime, if we can't fix our society the next best thing is to atone for it. Lord, please don't wipe us out. Give us more time (as the prophets of old would intercede.)

A holding action may be the best we can do at the moment.

We can avert chastisements by sincere repentance. Even a few can save many.

We don’t have to wait till there is an army at the gate or gangs on the street before we start praying. If we get in early enough these things will not happen at all.

Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Mass for the Assumption

Mass for the feast of the Assumption is at St Monica's, the normal time of 8am for Mondays.
There will be a sung Mass at Holy Name Church, 6.30pm.
Happy Feast Day!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

8th Sunday after Pentecost 7 Aug 2011 Sermon

8th Sunday after Pentecost 7.8.11 Living in two worlds

The unjust steward is praised for his cleverness, not for his dishonesty. Our Lord’s point is that the criminals of the world are smart at knowing their objective and in carrying it out. He is saying that we can learn a lesson from them. If we set ourselves to be good, we need to be equally smart (wise) in knowing our objective and how to attain it.

What is our objective? To get to heaven. Our objective in this life is to make the next life! We are on earth so that we can get to heaven.

This is seen as crazy by those who think this life is the only one we have. Why sacrifice anything? Why put off to tomorrow what you can have today?

But our view is guided by divine revelation. This life on earth is merely the prologue, the introduction to a much longer and fuller life in Heaven.

Here, we are on a pilgrimage. We have no lasting city here. We are tempted to settle down and live like it is all we have; and many Christians do succumb to that temptation, forgetting all about their original destination.

But we are called back by the word of God, repeatedly reminded that we have no business here other than to further our progress towards Heaven, our real home.

It is a pilgrimage, or a race, and we should see everything in that light. We must keep the end in view. ‘End’ in both senses – in time and purpose.

We might resent all this because we want some happiness now if it can be had. We are glad at the thought of being happy after we die, but can we not be happy before death as well? This is the not unreasonable question many Christians put.

Yes we can be happy in this life, and God means us to be so, but we cannot demand unlimited happiness just yet. On a journey we cannot have all the comforts that we expect when we arrive at our destination.

So a certain discipline is required from us. Always we are being asked for restraint and self-denial. We can feel exhausted by that. The way to heaven is steep and winding while the way to hell is wide and smooth. It is hard to be always climbing and going against the tide. And we might feel a certain resentment that it is so hard. But there is consolation at hand for this feeling.

We find, as we focus our thoughts on heaven, not only does it become clearer as a destination but also the way we think about this life changes too.

We are not so grasping, so greedy, so anxious to cram every possible pleasure into a limited time. Self-restraint becomes easier because we realize that anything we deny ourselves here we will receive back a hundred-fold.

And also we find that there is happiness simply in living well, and wisely. We experience peace and tranquillity – and these are no small things.

Even non-religious people will acknowledge that to be happy within is worth more than possessions or external achievements. A poor man in his hut can be happier than the king in his palace if he has peace of mind.

If having heard all this we still feel we are being cheated of something, then we know we are not yet thinking with the mind of Christ. We are still looking through worldly eyes; analysing what it will cost in worldly terms. How much wealth, popularity power will I have to give up, to be His disciple?

Our faith is not a burden, something to be cast off like uncomfortable clothing. What a time I could have if I didn’t have to go to Mass, to pray, to worry about judgment etc. But this is to forget (once again) our final objective.

Where we hope to go is so good that it is worth any sacrifice in this life. Though, as we see, this life can be happy too, when we get in the right way of understanding it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

7th Sunday after Pentecost 31 Jul 2011 Sermon

7th Sunday after Pentecost 31.7.11 Forming character

The Gospel speaks of trees bearing good or bad fruit. If we are to be trees then we must be those that bear only good fruit.

We take it for granted that things in nature will do what they are supposed to do, without any argument.

But we also take it for granted that people will be sometimes good and sometimes bad; that it is very hard to predict what we will do next.

The problem is that we are not yet seeing human nature as refashioned in Jesus Christ. We are still thinking of the ‘old man’ in force before Our Lord came to renew human nature.

We still tend to look at Our Lord and His teaching as being out of our reach. A nice theory, and in His case, a perfect effort, but for the rest of us ‘mortals’ it is not seriously to be expected that we could do the same thing.

In fact, however, being good is our ‘true’ nature. It is what we are designed for, just as a bird to fly or a fish to swim, or a tree to bear fruit.

There was no ‘original sin’ of fish whereby for a time they were unable to swim; but there has been such a time for humanity - the time from Adam to Christ.

But, Christ having come, we now have a repaired human nature, not only repaired but improved upon the original. This is not generally understood; so we continue to live in slavery when we could be walking in glorious freedom.

With Christ dwelling in us it should happen over time that our character changes. We become Christ-like, of one heart and mind with Him. We start to see things as He sees them, to think, speak and act as He would do.

It may take time because every repair operation does. But there is a certainty about the process whereby we cannot fail to improve in our overall virtue if we let the power of Christ act upon us.

The biggest hurdle for us is just to believe this to be possible. Part of the slavery to sin to which St Paul alludes is that it lowers our expectations of what we are capable.

We can get a sense of what is possible by looking at life in Heaven and the life of Our Lady on earth.

Heaven. If we think of heaven nobody sins there. But why not? Because in heaven everyone would be so totally in union with the mind of God that no one would want to sin. But how can we get to heaven if we think that sin is normal or acceptable behaviour? We have to prepare for heaven by rooting out all impurities presently in us.

Our Lady. She was good all the time and we might ask, how could that be possible? How could anyone be like that? Simply because she understood that goodness was the natural course and also the greatest source of happiness.

We think that sin is a kind of short cut to happiness: that to cut a few corners on God’s law is better for us than to follow His line strictly. But Mary would tell us otherwise. The more we obey Him the more fully we experience the joyous freedom of a bird in flight.

So we can agree with the basic idea that to be good all the time is better than being good some of the time. We would understand this in every other area of our lives eg that cars should run; meals should be edible, travel should be safe....we want these things to happen and we notice the slightest imperfections.

But we don't see it in the whole way of living itself!

Jesus has made humanity new in Himself. Now He invites us to experience the new life and the new way of life which this involves. It will make us a lot happier than we have been so far!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

6th Sunday after Pentecost 24 Jul 2011 Sermon

6th Sunday after Pentecost 24.7.11 Spiritual hunger

One of God’s many blessings to the human race is that He provides us with food – so important to us for enjoyment, and relieving of hunger.

Today’s Gospel (the feeding of the multitude) describes one such occasion when God intervenes miraculously to provide food for thousands of people.

The miraculous nature of the event invites us to look beyond just the physical dimension and see what else God might be saying to us here.

Our Lord explained that the Israelites in the desert had received bread, but that was food only for the body. Now He, Jesus, would provide bread which would satisfy the soul, and would be lasting in its effects. He who eats this bread will never die.

He was talking spiritually. He was talking about the Eucharist, where His own Body would be food for us.

Just like physical food, the bread of life, the bread from heaven would provide energy - for the soul. Eating this bread will enable us to live rightly, to meet all our obligations, to live in joyful hope of better things to come, and all other related spiritual good effects.

When it comes to this particular food from heaven, its value is often missed because it is perceived as too abstract, too far above everyday needs.

Thus it happens that many people are apathetic or indifferent to receiving Holy Communion.

Most Catholics do not receive it even weekly (because they do not come to Mass weekly).

Most non-Catholics would not acknowledge that it is really the Body of Christ.

But of these people there are few who would turn down a good meal. Spiritual hunger is very real but it does not hurt as obviously as physical hunger. So it is easier to put it off to another day.

Are we hungry for the bread of life? Or do we receive it simply because it is part of the ritual?

The attitude of the one receiving this food has a lot to do with the results that will follow.

Two people receiving side-by-side could be receiving something very different. It is the same consecrated Host, the full body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord that is being received.

But if one person is fully believing, desiring to be filled with heavenly grace - while the other is merely going through the motions – there will be different outcomes.

We could say we receive what we want to receive. If we really hunger for the goodness of God we will receive it. If we are indifferent, though Christ be present, we will not benefit from His presence.

(A person in mortal sin will actually be worse off for receiving the sacrament because of the sin of disrespect involved.)

One reason for the indifference of many Catholics to this sacrament is that they think they can be ‘good’ by their own strength. Why bother to go to church and receive a sacrament when I could achieve the same effect by staying home and just making good resolutions?

This is to overrate one’s own strength. Many a good resolution does not see the light of day.

Also it is to reduce our religion to a merely ethical matter, whereas we are called to a life-giving relationship with God, like branches to a tree. Our Lord was not just an ethical teacher, setting out rights and wrongs. He calls us to direct and intimate union with Him. Unless you eat this bread you cannot have eternal life. (John 6,53)

A certain amount of childlike wonder will help here. We must not argue the point: just come, open our hearts and receive whatever it is that God wants to give. Take as much as you can, ‘all you can eat’. And each time we grow in desire and will be able to receive even more the next.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

5th Sunday after Pentecost 17 Jul 2011 Sermon

5th Sunday after Pentecost 17.7.11 Non-competitive love

Much of our world is based around competition and conflict.

We have wars where two sides fight each other for dominance. On the sporting field two teams fight each other. There can be only one winner. In business companies compete for market share. In workplaces employees compete for promotion. In Parliament members compete for votes and influence, and so on and on.

And we are jealous of others for their success or good fortune or talents... because we fear we are missing out, but there is enough for all.

In Jesus Christ we see a new model, a new way of looking at things. The vision of the world that He has left us is essentially non-competitive. It is not just one winner and the rest are losers. Everyone can be a winner.

We put prices on things here because there are limits to available quantities. But in heaven everyone can have enough and there is still more to come.

And Our Lord wants us to see this life in the same light. Not that we stop paying for groceries but that we start to see things in a larger vision, less defensive or grasping for ourselves and more expansive in our dealings with others.

To share what we have, in terms of possessions, is one thing. But even more important is to share goodwill, mercy, kindness.

Imagine standing at the foot of the Cross and seeing Our Lord die. How could we hold back on forgiving others? How could we begrudge mercy to any other at such a time?

If I have an enemy I want him to be my friend. I could want him dead, and that may be where I start, but once I have imbibed the Spirit of Christ I see my enemy in a new light. I see him as a lost soul, a lost sheep straying and needing to be rescued.

Thus I forgive him and this is what Christ asks of us. To see others as He sees them - not in a competitive, vengeful way but in generosity and goodwill.

The Mass is being at Calvary, so here in particular we see Our Lord completely offering Himself to each and all. We can all receive from Him and there is no less for others.

The Gospel today says we must be reconciled with all others before we come to Mass. Let us say that each Mass should make us more Christ-like than the one before.

If we can’t do it all in one day we can at least make progress.
We receive His love and we hope it makes us at least a little more like He is. His blood be in our blood; His heart in ours; His mind in ours.

We have a lot of unlearning to do in this area. From the time we were babies and trying to hold onto our toys we have been trained (by the general tone of the world) to be competitive and defensive in our dealings with others. The way of Christ is very different.

We don't like to be thought naive, to be pushovers. We learn that there are people around who could harm us. To guard against that we develop a rather tough exterior.

We can be cautious without writing people off. We may have to be wary of certain people, who might harm us or swindle us. But we can still desire their salvation. So I will not walk down the rough side of town at 3am, fearing that I might be bashed. But I can still pray and hope that the would-be bashers will come to salvation eventually!

People can be better, and so can trends be better than they are right now. This is not false optimism but a well-founded hope based on the saving power of Christ.

Love is not weakness as it might seem. To love like Christ loves is to be a strong person, certainly to be a better person. May He make us a little more like Himself each time we approach His altar.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

4th Sunday after Pentecost 10 Jul 2011 Sermon

4th Sunday after Pentecost 10.7.11 Transformed

There are two remarkable things that God does for us:
1) that He forgives our sins and 2) that He sends us out to help others to seek forgiveness for their sins.

Both would seem unlikely if we thought about them in advance.

Why should He forgive us so freely? He loves us enough to be able to do that. We should be very grateful.

Perhaps it is even more improbable that He would use us to forgive others. In today’s Gospel, when Peter acknowledges his sinfulness Our Lord does not contradict him but moves on to another matter when He says, I will make you fishers of men.

To be ‘fishers of men’: of course we cannot pull others in by our own authority. What we can do is bring Christ to others by the fact that He dwells in us.

This will work if we are humble enough. Humility is the key.

The moment we think we are ‘good’ in our own strength or by our own virtue, we crumble to nothing. But if we remember on an ongoing basis that it is only by God’s grace that we are still able to walk free... thus we are humbled, and then we can be channels of that same grace to others.

This is how the Church grew. A small band of people experienced the mercy of God which transformed them. Then, on fire with gratitude and maintaining humility this small band went out proclaiming the mercy of God and telling others what they had to do to receive the same thing.

Many believed them and they in turn became proclaimers of mercy and so the Church has spread and still does in our time.

What makes us any different from the people outside? We are not better than they are by any innate virtue. Our only claim to fame is that we have had enough sense to see our need of mercy and to receive it as offered.

We do not set ourselves up as better than the rest of the human race; only fortunate enough to have discovered the precious pearl of faith. And in our relief and joy at finding a way out of misery we want to tell others about it.

We throw out the line like the fishermen and hope to bring in some willing fish. (Real fish do not want to be caught; but the people who are ‘caught’ will be happy.)

We say that the apostles were transformed after Pentecost and it is often said that previously timid men were now courageous. It is true.

But their change from timid to courageous was made possible by a deeper transformation still: sinful to forgiven.

From that point on they were too happy to be worried about their own safety. Courage is self-forgetfulness. So is humility.

St Paul (also an apostle) thought he was the least of all, and many other saints have said the same. They were not just saying that as a polite formality. They really did think it because they could see so clearly their inadequacy in the light of Christ.

The greatest saints are the most humble people. Lesser people think they are more important, and so are less able to transmit the mercy of God. A strange paradox.

The truly humble are able to convey the reality of God to others: by the holiness of their lives, and by the fact that God can work through them.

May we be such people. There is so much need in these times. The harvest is rich. Can we be the labourers to bring them in?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

3rd Sunday after Pentecost 3 Jul 2011 Sermon

3rd Sunday after Pentecost 3.7.11 Individual sheep

If we go into or any crowded place there would be lots of people around and most of them we would not know personally. We would not know their names, nor anything about them except for certain generalisations we could make.

It would be a strange thing if we could walk among a large group of people and we found that we knew the name of every person there; and not only their names but everything about them, even their innermost thoughts, fears, hopes, joys and sorrows!

It would be amazing to know all that. There is Someone who does, of course – the Good Shepherd, who knows His sheep, and also those are not His sheep but should be. The ones who are not presently His are the lost ones, for whom He goes searching.

There must be a lot of lost sheep in our present world. If ‘lost’ means anyone who does not fully belong to the flock of Christ, does not give explicit loyalty and obedience to Him, then it must mean most people in the world.

Even if we did know all those people in the crowded place it would not necessarily mean that we loved them as well. But in God’s case, yes, He does that too. He has a personal , vital interest there. His love is infinite, passionate.

To us other people can be just there, of no particular significance. It is hard for us to imagine the burning love of the Sacred Heart, caring so much for each one. But if we think of how important we regard our own lives that gives a clue. Every person in the crowd is just like us insofar as each one regards his/her life as very important. God can see that and He agrees it is important.

He loves each person and desires the salvation of that soul. Every soul is meant to be in the orbit of the Sacred Heart, keeping close at all times.

A planet is happy if it stays in its proper orbit, drawing life from the star to which it is attached. If it loses its orbit it loses everything. So with us – if we stay close to the Good Shepherd we have everything. Away from Him we are in chaos.

Our Lord seeks to bring peace and harmony into the lives of each person but many will reject His efforts, either deliberately or simply through neglect.

Others, like us, will want to cooperate but we make things harder due to our sins and inconsistent behaviour.

What can we do? For ourselves, clean up our own backyard and get our response right. Climb into our orbit. It is not dull to be in a fixed path. There we find stability, the basis to develop our true selves.

For the other people in the crowd - we desire their salvation. We believe in their importance, not necessarily their goodness; acknowledging that they were designed by God to live with Him for all eternity. So there must be something good there. No one is predestined for hell.

We hope they find their place. Increasing the overall harmony. Let us make music together, we could say. The bigger the choir the better it sounds; the better our world becomes.

We desire this – to the point that we will pray for it and make sacrifices for it to happen.

Think of saints like St Francis Xavier who travelled to evangelise complete strangers on the other side of the world. It would have been easy for him to stay home, as it is for us. But he realized their importance simply because they were human and he made sacrifices to bring them the Gospel.

Who cares about all those other people in the world? God does, and so therefore should we.

May the Good Shepherd continue to find, and keep, every lost soul.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

2nd Sunday after Pentecost 26 Jun 2011 Sermon

2nd Sunday after Pentecost 26.6.11 Eucharist as source of strength

When Joshua takes over from Moses as leader of the Israelites, the people tell him to ‘Be strong. Do not fear’( Joshua 1,18). Good advice certainly, but I can imagine Joshua saying, ‘Well, it’s easy for you to say: Be strong. How would you like to lead the way into furious battles and the like?’

In the Church we give each other a lot of advice. And in the Bible, the writings of the saints and teachings of the Church there is much instruction and exhortation about what we should do and avoid doing.

It is all good material. We know that we ought to do these things. But we sometimes doubt that we have the strength to do them.

We are so weak as individuals that we cannot easily just be courageous, or generous, or self-sacrificing as though it were an everyday thing.

We can do these things but not in our own strength. We can do them only if we are supported and sustained by the grace of God.

Like Peter walking on the water: he could do it when he forgot himself and focused on Our Lord. When he turned the focus back on himself he began to sink. So it is with us in many things.

If we set out to be kind to everyone we meet, just by our own willpower, we may not last long. But if we are fortified by the grace of God so that His kindness (and other good qualities) fill our hearts and minds – then we can make some progress.

So it is we come here to this Mass. We come here for several reasons, but one is to ask for the graces necessary that we can be the sort of disciples Our Lord wants to have.

We acknowledge that we cannot do it alone. Only by His help. And so we ask for that help in whatever form it is needed.

And He provides on request. He gives us His life-giving flesh in Holy Communion. This flesh is divinised; it is God in physical form and when we receive it we will be transformed within. We will find new courage and other virtues brimming over within us, at least for a time.

Because we are weak we are not able to ‘hold’ divine grace for long. We are small containers for such greatness. So we have to come back again and again to be fed once more, and sustained a little longer in the battle of life.

Over time we can grow stronger in a more permanent way. Our character can be developed to the point that we find certain things easy which once would have been impossible.

We commit less sins, less often and less serious, as we become accustomed to holding more and more of divine grace within. And we do more good, by the same process.

The Gospel today speaks of a divine banquet to which we are all invited. At a banquet we can eat more than usual. Normally good manners require us to be moderate in what we eat. But in spiritual terms we can take as much as possible from this particular banquet. The more of the life of God we can imbibe the better for us and everyone.

We have to be strong to be disciples of Christ these days. There are many trials and pitfalls. It is so easy to give up or just paddle along at our own speed. Always more seems to be asked of us. How can we cope? It is all possible by the power of grace. And we are given that power, so we cannot complain.

Only if we stop believing, or seeking, or coming to the fount of grace will we lose what we had and it will seem more impossible than ever. So we keep doing these things and we see progress.

May the Bread of Life sustain us to the end.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Trinity Sunday 19 Jun 2011 Sermon

Trinity Sunday 19.6.11 God’s day

Today could be described as a day specially for God. We have ‘days’ to mark all sorts of things, so why not a day for God Himself?

Let us consider some aspects of His greatness.

Where does God come from? It is hard for the lesser to understand the greater. When did God start? Who made God? He did not start. No one made Him. It is very hard for us to grasp that something can have no beginning. God exists of Himself without cause. He contains existence within Himself. He is not just someone smarter or bigger but the basis of reality itself.

We cannot expect to understand beyond a certain point. We say what we can say and the rest is mystery. Far from reducing His credibility this actually increases it. If God could be easily explained He would not be that far superior, when in fact He is vastly, infinitely beyond us.

We cannot exhaust the mysteries but we can enter them like a garden where there are endless avenues to pursue.

All this gives us a proper sense of inferiority, which may sting the pride a little, but on reflection it is actually a comfort to have someone so strong to take refuge in. If humanity were the smartest reality around we really would have something to worry about!

Having established all this we then marvel that He cares for us even individually. The God who made all this actually cares what happens to each one of us. He came down to earth to share our human nature and raise us up to live with Him.

God is not so far away as to be unapproachable; not so close as to be equal. We need the right mix of reverence and filial trust.

One of the most mysterious things about God is His Trinitarian identity. How can there be three persons in one nature? Each of us is one person and one nature. If we had more than one person inside us that would make us a split personality, and that is a disorder. But there is no disorder in God.

Three persons make perfect unity in one nature. There is an infinite love into which we are drawn.

All three persons have every perfection. We attribute things to one Person more than another but all three Persons have full possession of whatever God possesses.

So if we say, for instance, that the Holy Spirit has wisdom, we understand that the Father and Son also have it. Or that if God the Son is present in the Eucharist then so are the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The Three Persons love each other eternally. From this we learn that we should also love one another. And when we do love that it be according to God’s definitions and standards. Love is not our own property to be dealt with as we please.

Drawn into His love we discover our purpose on earth and are more likely to be able to heal the earth, so lacking in love at present. Yes, exploring the reality of God does help. We are never wasting time to get in touch with the Source of our being, who is also the End of all our activity.

In heaven they praise God constantly. On earth they ignore Him (speaking generally). This is obviously not how things should be. If not enough people are praising Him then we must double or treble our praises – that God be glorified, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Pentecost Sunday 12 Jun 2011 Sermon

Pentecost Sunday 12.6.11 Real change

Pentecost is a fuller-than-ever before revelation of the plans of God to save us, and therefore a day to rejoice. God had intervened many times before but never to this extent. All the covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, were leading up to this. Even the work of Christ Himself was not complete until Pentecost.

At Pentecost we see that God desires an internal change in people, in the way they relate to Him, in the way they live.

When the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles they were changed forever. They were given in that moment a new and deeper understanding of the reality of God, and though they believed before now they reached a new level of faith and with it, charity.

Receiving a new awareness of God, like a brand on the soul, they forgot their previous fears and were able to proclaim the Gospel to anyone, receptive or hostile.

So we talk of the Holy Spirit putting His seal on us, marking us for life. We belong to God once and for all. (Our sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are meant to express the same reality as Pentecost, but do not always carry the same conviction. Sometimes only later do we grasp the full impact of sacraments already received.)

The apostles could not not preach the word of God. They knew too much to keep quiet about it. They had discovered the formula that would set everyone free and bring universal happiness.

The same must happen to us. Pentecost is about conversion, of moving form darkness to light, from ignorance to knowing; from not-caring about our neighbour to caring. Caring in the spiritual sense; wanting him to know what we know, the goodness of God. Not being patronising but simply pointing to something that anyone would benefit from.

For the apostles the deeper conversion and the bolder proclamation seemed to be as one movement. Once they reached a certain level of awareness they could not keep that awareness bottled up.

We need a deeper conversion. No matter how well we know God now we could all use an increase. And when we are converted enough we will find ourselves like the apostles, ready to go through fire and water to make Christ known to the world.

We do not have to wait till we are perfect to make known the glory of God. Even if there are no St Peters or St Pauls about we already know enough to know which direction we must head. We encourage each other to holiness, by prayer and example.

We can make progress even if we are only limping.

Different people have different needs for what has to be done.

Whatever our particular problem: habitual sin, doubt, anger, unforgiveness... this is our seeking at Pentecost. The change may not come on Pentecost Sunday itself, but if we keep seeking it will come. And the more the light of God gets inside us the more transformed we become, and the more powerful agents of evangelisation.

The Church vis-a-vis world seems to be always in the same position. We have so much to offer but the world does not really want to hear it. Through fear we can be huddled in the Upper Room saying, I’m not going out there.

But if we are really filled with the Holy Spirit we cannot not live it, and this is the beginning of proclaiming it. It must show.

Therefore, may that same Holy Spirit fall afresh on us and all who seek Him this day, and in due time on those who do not seek Him - but would if they knew better.