Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sunday after the Ascension 17 May 2015 Sermon

Sunday after the Ascension 17.5.15 Even if it kills us

If you won the lottery you probably would not kill the messenger who came to tell you. But if he came to tell you that you had eternal life then you might kill him. Or at least that is what the world has done to evangelists and missionaries many times.

What is the difference in the two cases? In the first case it is just a matter of picking up the winnings. In the second case there is a cost - a kind of ‘bad news’ built into the Good News, whereby people will have to give up their evil ways to receive the promised reward.

Everyone wants to go to heaven but not everyone is willing to do anything to get there. If entry to Heaven is automatic (as so many today seem to think) then no effort is required on our part, not even the effort of moral reform.

The true Gospel requires of us that we have to make an effort to uproot sinful habits, to overcome the flesh, to tame our unruly inclinations.

This can be very difficult at first, and because these things have to be done before any talk of reward - then it is a scheme easy to reject.

The message of the Gospel is essentially that we have to make certain sacrifices first and then we will be much happier, both in this life and the next. But it is a hard message to sell if people are enslaved to their various vices.

We are weakened by previous sin. The understanding and the will are both damaged and the idea of making sacrifices can seem so alien, even after we have come to faith.

Nevertheless the Gospel is compelling. And we would be very foolish to reject it.

Any sacrifice we make will be rewarded many times over in terms of peace of mind, a contented life, and the sureness of eternal life.

So we receive the Gospel ourselves and then we proclaim it to others.

Even it if kills us! In both senses of ‘killing’. That it kills us to put our sinful nature to death. And it might kill us to offer the Gospel to others, as the history of our Church shows.

Anyone who takes the faith seriously is likely to be ridiculed, marginalised, even literally killed.

We must not be afraid of any of this. The Holy Spirit will come and will enlighten our minds to give us joy in the truth; and He will enflame our hearts to love this truth and live by it.

We are so secure in Him that we do not need public opinion to be on our side.

Having the truth and proclaiming it come together in one continuous action.

We have found the pearl of great price (Mt 13,46), worth more than money and all worldly things which pass quickly.

We really are very fortunate to have a religion which offers so much and is actually true.

Even if it kills us we will let this joy possess us.

We are in a week of special payer for the Holy Spirit to come again in our time.

He will do these two things we need: purify our own souls and enable us to proclaim the Gospel to others.

He will put some steel back into us, in terms of courage and wisdom - the wisdom to know what is right; the courage to live accordingly.

The Church will regain the confidence to proclaim the full Gospel, not the watered-down version so common today, but the real Gospel, straight from the Holy Spirit.

There are vast masses of people still living in darkness. We must light some fire for them. The Holy Spirit will do that. We implore Him to come.

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