Thursday, 24 April 2014

Easter Sunday 20 Apr 2014 Sermon

Easter Sunday 20.4.14 Degrees of belief

The Easter events are dramatic yet fail to make an impact on many people.

How can such things fall on deaf ears or hard hearts? The problem is essentially lack of faith. And that problem is caused essentially by sin.

If we had obeyed Almighty God from the first moment of creation there would be no problem. We would have retained a much stronger sense of God’s reality and His closeness to us. We would never think of disobeying Him because we would see no reason to disobey. We would accept as obvious that whatever God wanted for us was the best thing possible, so we would go along with that.

But sin entered the world and caused division between man and God. From the time of the original sin our judgment has been warped; our mind clouded, our will weakened.

From that cloudy and weak position it is hard for us to understand the ways of God, so we continue to disobey Him and this creates further chaos and confusion, and leads to even less faith.

So we cling to the ‘certainties’ we have, and reject the promises of some far-off happiness. We cling to the way we live not believing change is possible. We despair of anything much better than we have known so far.

Thus the Salvation brought by Jesus Christ has never really had full impact on the world. Jesus has burst forth from the tomb but there has not been an equivalent reaction from the world outside the tomb.

We also, though we believe in Him, also find a certain fogginess in our faith, caused by our own sin, and not helped by the general moral chaos of the world around us. It is hard for us too to have a clear, absolute and definite faith.

Sometimes we believe Him, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we obey Him, sometimes we don't.

This is not the complete response required by the event itself which is as absolute as they come. To go from such a death to such a life in less than two days is as clear cut a demonstration of God’s power as anyone could wish.

It is a circular problem. We do not believe because we have sinned. We will not stop sinning unless we believe more.

How do we get to the place where we believe fully and do not sin at all?

Only by the grace of God can we go that extra distance.

So we ask Our Lord to give us that extra burst of faith, that love of Him, that clarity and certainty, whereby we will not doubt Him, and discover the freedom from sin that He offers us.

He does not just forgive sin; He sets us free from it – such that we have no further attraction to it.

We can do this today. We don't have to wait till a final illness, or till we go to Purgatory to work all this out. Now is a good time!

No more shilly-shallying, no more half in- half out.

Lord, help my unbelief, as the man said. My Lord and my God, as Thomas said.

Each of us can pray for our own self. And of course we don't mind praying the same thing for all the people out there, wherever each one is on the spectrum of faith. Everyone needs help.

Faith is available on demand. It does not cost anything. It just needs a little resolution to explore more deeply. Lord, I will take You seriously, this time, if I have been avoiding You for the last few years (or decades).

If a few lead the way, others will follow.

It has not been all bad so far. There have been many saints, many movements of renewal in our 2000 year history. You win some you lose some. We just want to win a lot more of them.

Lord, help me to believe it all with my heart and soul, not just with my mind. Amen.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Sunday Mass times

Masses at St Monica's continue as normal from Easter Sunday:
Thus Mass Easter Sunday will be at 8am and all weekdays as usual.
And there will be 5pm Mass at Sacred Heart, Hindmarsh, Easter Sunday.
Happy Easter to all!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Passion Sunday 6 Apr 2014 Sermon

Passion Sunday 6.4.14 Generosity

The death of Christ purifies creation and atones for the entirety of human sin. Not all of this atonement is valued or applied, however. Many reject or scorn the mercy of God, and so remain in their sins even though they could go free.

It is like those people we hear about who have won the lottery but do not know it. They have to present themselves to claim the prize. Just so, to be saved we have to present ourselves and claim the gift.

We are not saved passively, as though it is something done to us without our consent.

We are saved by our cooperating with the grace of God; being transformed by the death of Christ, conformed to His heart and mind. Taken to its fullest level we are so conformed to Him that we see His behaviour as the natural thing for us to do; not a great effort but something that flows naturally.

Natural to be that generous? It was for Him. Jesus wanted to give up His life for the sins of the world. He did not have to be talked into it. It is why He came to the world: "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk19,10). Most of us would find excuses not to take it quite that far!

It is not (yet) in our nature to think like Our Lord was thinking. We don't mind being generous but laying down our life for someone is another matter.

It was natural for Our Lord, in both His divine and human natures. As divine He is Love itself, therefore infinitely giving and generous. As human He lives human nature as God designed it, thus again being naturally generous.

He cared infinitely what happens to other people. We care a lot about some people, but not so much about everyone. Jesus cares about them all, and never forgets anyone for a second, not even the most repulsive or obscure.

We are saved when we become like that! Or let us say that the more we become like that the more grasp we have on our salvation.

Every time we present ourselves at the re-enactment of His sacrifice it should have an effect on us. We will go out of this church better than we came in. Better, as in more willing and able to share in His sacrifice; more fully possessing a concern for others, and a desire to see them saved.

It takes generosity to want others to be saved because it is not an easy business.

All kind of opposition will be met with.

We see in today’s Gospel how the prejudices of the Jewish leaders were working against Our Lord. It was not so much that they did not believe Him as that they did not like Him. They wanted Him to be wrong, but right or wrong they wanted Him gone.

If we identify with Him they will not like us either. The genuine Christian is a threat to the peace of mind of the confirmed sinner. People in every age have found it easier to kill the prophet than to reform their ways.

To be Jesus’ disciple is to receive some of the treatment He did. The more like Him we are the more we will suffer.

But being conformed to Him we will not mind the suffering because by that stage we are moved by the same charity and generosity which He possessed.

This will happen as we spend time with Him - at Mass, praying to Him, receiving other sacraments, generally immersing ourselves in His company.

Every person in the world should be like Jesus Christ! If that sounds too much it is not.

It is simply what would happen if the full effect of His saving death was allowed to take its course.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

4th Sunday of Lent 30 March 2014 Sermon

4th Sunday of Lent 30.3.14 Higher things

Our Lord feeds the crowd with ordinary bread by way of preparation for the much greater gift of Heavenly bread, His own flesh.

God seeks to bless us beyond what we expect or even want.

We might be quite happy just to have bread to eat, good health, security, entertainment etc.

We don't expect much happiness insofar as we are used to life being a series of disappointments. Our happiness is fragile and fleeting. There are many happy moments but it is a bumpy ride.

We are promised that eventually we will have unlimited joy. Joy with no snags. Nothing goes wrong in heaven. You don't so much as stub your toe. No pain, no fear, no embarrassment, no nervousness, etc No anxiety that it is all going to end.

It is very hard to imagine a place where everything goes well all the time. But there is such a place and we expect to go there.

But the delight of Heaven is not just earthly delights multiplied and extended forever. The delight of Heaven is being immersed in union with Almighty God, the source of all blessing.

It is a completely different kind of delight, higher and better than we know. We may not be able to imagine it, or even want it, yet it is what we yearn for. This is what all the saints tell us, and it makes sense that the One who made all the things we delight in on earth would be greater than the things He has made. The Creator must be greater than the Created.

Yet with all this we may still be hankering just for earthly bread. I am happy to think of heaven but all I want for now is my lunch! And to be able to cope from one day to the next.

Not much vision here, nor much faith, hope, gratitude, zeal to evangelise. Just a survival mentality. Whereas Our Lord is challenging us to something much deeper and bigger.

He wants us to think less about our earthly needs and take a more spiritual view of things. Less worried about what we eat and wear and how we look; and more worried about getting our souls right. And as far as we can help, the souls of our neighbours. To seek higher things, like praising God, and helping His plans to come into effect.

If we give Him our full trust He will sort out the practical details. If we seek first His kingdom all other things we need will be given to us besides.

We sell God short if we reduce His influence on our lives to simply a provider of our needs, a solver of our problems.

It must not be that we set the agenda and ask Him to make it happen. No, it has to be His agenda, and we ask to help make that happen.

Our vocation in life is set by Him. Whatever decisions we make we refer to Him. Whatever He gives us or withholds from us; whatever He does or does not do – we will accept, and gratefully.

All this and more the miracle of the Loaves is saying to us, as is the epistle which speaks of the freedom that comes to us through the new covenant. We are set free from looking too low for our happiness; from the limits of this life only, instead soaring aloft towards the limitless joy of Heaven.

Do we dare to hope for more than a good lunch? Yes, some would say: we want a good lunch every day for the next fifty years. No, still not enough. We are looking for a happiness that is so great we cannot describe it. We don't have to be able to describe it to want it. We just let the Lord take us there.