Tuesday, 24 April 2012

2nd Sunday after Easter 22 Apr 2012 Sermon

2nd Sunday after Easter 22.4.12 Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd calls us to His flock – and there is only one flock; thus one Church.

There is a communal element to salvation. We are not saved on our own, just as individuals but as part of a larger entity – the Body of Christ, the Church.

We have been very individualistic these last few centuries. This has crept into our view of Christianity, that somehow people have come up with the idea that it is possible to be a disciple of Christ, but without reference to other disciples of Christ.

You will hear people say: I believe in Jesus, but not in the Church. Or: I am spiritual but not religious (code words for: I do not identify with any Church). Or people will speak with a certain contempt for ‘organised religion’ as though organisation necessarily kills the spontaneity of the spirit.

True, we are judged as individuals, but part of that judgment will include to what extent we did identify with the Body of Christ.

To be in union with Christ it is essential to be in union with His body.

It is a delusion to think that Jesus would not mind if His disciples have different beliefs and practices from each other. He wants us all in one body, one in mind and heart with Him and with each other.

[We do not have to agree on everything, but we do have to agree on all the basic issues of faith and morality.]

Which flock is the right one to be in? How about the one that Christ Himself established? That has a fair chance of being the right one. And that is who we are. The one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

Join this and you are not losing anything of yourself. You will be more who you are than you were before.

Discovering our place in a larger body of people is much more exciting and interesting than trying to do it all on our own. In any case no one disciple has all the gifts. We need each other to be fulfilled. We are each a part of the Body of Christ, but only a part.

We identify with others in terms of believing and doing the same things. We are also vitally concerned for their welfare, not just their physical and material welfare, important as they are; but most of all for their salvation.

So we answer the call of the Good Shepherd. We let Him form us, as individuals, but always as part of a larger body.

It is not enough to be in union with Him; I must also be in union with His other disciples, at least in terms of charity, if not yet in belief.

So I must love other Catholics who do not hold to all the Catholic teachings. I must love the Protestants and Orthodox - the heretics and schismatics – love them in the sense that I want them to have full unity with Christ, and by extension with me.

The Body of Christ is torn a thousand different ways presently. The flock is scattered to the four winds. We cannot rest while others are out in the cold. Presently that is most others!

Each of us must make and maintain a strong sense of loyalty to Him, the Good Shepherd, and let Him work through us to bring others to that one flock.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Low Sunday 15 Apr 2012 Sermon

Low Sunday 15.4.12 Faith

St Thomas had a moment of realisation, of repentance, of faith, of conversion. My Lord and My God. His response was meant for us too, to be frequently repeated and reaffirmed.

The debate this week between the bishop and the atheist has caused much interest. (Cardinal Pell v Richard Dawkins, Australian television 9 April 2012)

Atheism is really more of a psychological or emotional matter than an intellectual one. It is more that the atheists do not like God than that they do not believe in Him. This explains their anger and their passion to undermine the faith.

They are right in some of their claims, as when they point out the faults of Christians. However even if Christians do the very worst things it does not stop God from existing!

He is still there, still good, still the source of salvation. We must come back to this basic point of clarity and renewal.

We hope everyone else behaves; ultimately we can answer only for ourselves and each of us can say: I will behave.

We all need to have the Thomas moment. No one is an atheist once we encounter God. The devil is not an atheist, for example.

It is pride v humility. If we have the humility to admit our smallness before God we are given the faith and are more likely to behave in the future.

If, however, pride takes hold the denial continues. Just as the devil hates God so much that even if he were offered a ticket to heaven he would not take it.

The pharisees hated Jesus so much that they were beyond caring whether he was the Messiah or not. They just wanted to get rid of Him.

So the atheist says: we just have to get rid of Him. We will make Him not exist, if there is no other way.

We ourselves may be disenchanted with the Church or some of its members. But we hold to My Lord and My God. No more arguing, questioning; just yielding to His perfect will. Do with me what thou wilt. Then we would see a lot more miracles.

Divine Mercy Sunday: mercy is another word for salvation, restoring right relationship with God. The need is very great as we can see, looking around the world.

So many have lost the faith; so few have it in any great amount.

The Thomas moment is an encounter with Mercy. At the moment a person realises his smallness before God the change of heart takes place. This is what we are praying for on this day, as every other day.

It is a battle for souls, the most important battle going on in the world. A lot of souls are at stake. It is hard to maintain urgency because we see only a small part of the process and it is largely an invisible battle.

We can pray but not have any confirmation whether the prayer has ‘worked’ or not; but we offer it in trust.

Converting sinners is a process. It takes more than just a simple one-off prayer. We have to battle with the demons, with the way the world is, and with long-established bad habits. (The world, the flesh and the devil).

Look what Christ had to do to save us. It was not a walk in the park.

So we give lots of time to this. We need to immerse ourselves in it, be urgent about it.

No earthly goal could be more important. We worry about football games and political elections and horse races, but who wins the souls of Fred and Freda, our next door neighbours? And who would care? But when we really get into it we see how important it is.

If we love our neighbour nothing is more important than eternal salvation.

May the Lord bring us all to that moment of recognition which Thomas had, and help us to cling to it the rest of our lives.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Easter Sunday 8 April 2012 Sermon

Easter Sunday 8.4.12 Good News

Resurrection is the ultimate good news. Christ is risen and we can rise with Him.

When you consider what life is like; we are so accustomed to suffering, disappointment, shattered dreams, bombarded with bad news... we can be so battered and bruised by all this that we can cease to hope for anything better - either in this life or the next.

And many people do not believe there is anything better because they have allowed the negative experiences of this world to damage their faith, or prevent them from having faith.

So any good news is welcome. In this case the news is so good that it may seem unbelievable... Death is not the last word, there is something better. Life not only goes on after death but it is much better – no more suffering, no more pain, no more death. This is more good than we would expect, or dare to hope for.

We would have called it good news if our troubles were slightly reduced, say if life expectancy could be increased through better medicine - but we are going much further than that.

‘At rest, no more pain.’ – the death notices say. We might settle for that. Just being unconscious. But we can have far better and we should look for it.

We have been so crushed that we do not expect all this. We have become cynical.

This day calls us to a more childlike simplicity, free of the encrustation of years, that the ending is happy after all.

All of this stems from the one simple historical fact that Christ is Risen, and we are involved in that.

He rose: how does that affect me? We unite with Him through faith and baptism, receiving Him in Holy Communion. Through that union we rise in Him and with Him.

He dwells in us and puts His life in us, resurrected life, already working in us.

Is it too good to be true? Things can be true even if we don't understand them fully.

How do we know it is true? How can you believe anything anyone tells you in a world where people tell lies regularly, and even when they think they are telling the truth they might still be wrong?

The credibility of the Christian gospel comes from the witnesses who saw Christ risen and who testified to what they saw. They were prepared to die for it; also to live for it.

This one truth has come down through the ages despite so much pressure and so many attempts to suppress it. Like a candle that has kept alight in a strong wind. A miracle in itself.

We have much evidence through the last 2000 years of the truth of this belief. The miracles worked by saints; miracles even in our own lives (if we are alert to see them).

But also, and more important, simple charity and goodness. There has been enough good to keep our hope alive.

We can contribute a little more good ourselves and come to experience first-hand the joy and peace that are found in heaven.

We have this already insofar as we live in a Christlike way. His life is in us if we let it take effect.

The more we believe it the more true it becomes! If we believe it we will act on it, and in acting on it we will experience ‘resurrection’ in terms of having a happier life and more hope.

May the Lord heal us of any discouragement and disenchantment we may have picked up along the way. And plant in us such a faith that we will never doubt Him again, claiming more of that eternal life even before death, and lots more after that.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Easter Triduum details

For Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday I will be taking part in the ceremonies at Holy Name. Accordingly there will be no Traditional ceremonies at St Monica's on those days.

On Easter Sunday Mass will be at the normal time of 8am at St Monica's,
and 5pm at Sacred Heart Church, Hindmarsh.

The times at Holy Name will be:
Holy Thursday 7pm
Good Friday (Main liturgy) 5pm
Holy Saturday 10pm

Holy Name Church is at 80 Payneham Road, Stepney, Adelaide.