Thursday, 26 November 2015

Last Sunday after Pentecost 22 Nov 2015 Sermon

Last Sunday after Pentecost 22.11.15 Hope

It’s that time of year when we think especially about the end of the world.

The way things are going in the world at present it feels like the end of the world every day.

Between the terrorists and their violence, and the secularists eroding away at our beliefs and values we feel the squeeze from all directions.

Our society is descending into both physical and moral chaos.

Are we worried? To a degree, yes, but we are also filled with hope, and even joy as we draw upon our faith. The central point of our faith is that there is a God who created us, saves us, keeps all things in view and has the power at any point to intervene as He pleases.

The challenge for us is to stay calm. As in a fire drill: please proceed to the nearest exit, do not run, stay calm, gather outside until further instruction….

So we could say this for the whole of our lives: Do not panic, and wait for further instructions. Do not panic because God is with us; and wait for further instructions from Him!

So we can listen to readings like today’s Gospel and still survive. The end of the world holds no fear for us if we are in a state of grace.

Well, let us admit we would be frightened if the sky started falling in, but we understand that the grace of God would enable us to cope with any such eventuality, and we would call upon the inner joy that comes with faith.

When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.” (Lk 21,28)

A certain amount of physical turmoil is to be expected.

But more important is the spiritual reaction. We do not panic, or lose faith for anything that happens either personally or on a larger scale.

We do not break our union with God, which would be like cutting a lifeline.

There is much we do not understand about God and His plans but we get the essential idea, which is that we must stand close to Him. If I can but touch the hem of his garment (Mt 9,21).

The passages like today’s Gospel serve as a warning: God gives the human race many chances, but there is a time when time will run out. And then it is too late.

All things must pass. If we try to build a kingdom without God we will lose house, city, freedom, life, and soul.

Time runs out. How many die without a chance to recollect, let alone repent?

How fragile it all is, even the structures on which we rely.

Despite the general impression of gloom this word from God inspires us to seek deeper union with Him.

While everything shifts, we stand on the rock which does not move.

Some despair and give way to hedonism. Some find the wrong certainties, as in false religions.

This is where true religion comes in. Is there truth out there in all this madness? It is the Faith. Carefully established and proven over millennia.

When the enemies come to get you, hold on the certainties. We will stand with Him: I know that my Redeemer liveth (Job 19,25).

We keep the heavenly perspective and do not let the turbulence around us deflect or distract us.

Remember the fire drill. The required response is essentially calmness. If we keep turning up and praying each week, each day, it has to make a difference. It is like a drill what we do here. It will enable us to act coolly in whatever crisis emerges.

And the other point about the fire drill: we wait for instructions. We live our lives according to His word.

If enough people would obey Him some of these terrible things need not happen. In any event we ourselves will be ready for whatever comes.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

25th Sunday after Pentecost 15 Nov 2015 Sermon

25th Sunday after Pentecost (Readings 6th Sunday after Epiphany) 15.11.15 One Saviour

Our Lord talks in parables because He did not want to hit people with too much too soon; so He broke it to them in bits, hoping they would take it in.

One thing people have trouble taking in is the uniqueness of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Church He has founded.

Here is Jesus healing left and right, but people (and even His disciples) do not grasp the significance of His actions.

Who has the power to give life where it has been extinguished? Who has the authority to forgive sins?

Our Lord did these things, repeatedly. He was making the point that Salvation is found in Him, and the further point that it is not found anywhere else!

The Israelites were set free from Egypt but they soon forgot the source of their blessings and turned to false gods. The Jews of Our Lord’s time missed the true God among them because they were blinded by their own limited expectations.

The people of our time miss the true God because they pursue the false gods of pleasure, wealth, living in the flesh and not the spirit.

In every age and culture it seems the temptation to worship the wrong gods is prevalent. There is one real God and all the others are false. But the false ones will have enough appealing qualities to lead people astray.

Freedom of thought (misused), excessive individualism, a thousand counterfeits – and we have people confused and looking in the wrong places for salvation.

So we come back to asserting that there is one God, one Saviour, one tree to which all birds must come… today’s Gospel.

In the secular view the Church is just another organisation, another player on a crowded field. It has no particular importance.

But as Jesus puts to us, the Kingdom of God (Church) is meant to cover the whole world.

Just as He is King of all, His Church is meant to cover every part of the world. Go and baptise all nations (Mt 28,19).

There is only one God, one Saviour, one Church – and all must enter that Church to be saved.

As Our Lord said, in another tree image – He is the tree and we are the branches. Joined to Him we live and bear fruit; cut off from Him we can do nothing (Jn 15,5).

Even Catholics do not understand this, as with a false ecumenism they give too much respect to false religions.

It may seem arrogant to claim to be the only true religion out of all the others. We do not say this because we feel superior but because Jesus Christ is superior! He is the centre of all places, all times, all events, all history.

They crucified Him for claiming ‘too much’. So they will crucify us as well for saying the same things. Even other believers will persecute us.

It makes it harder when we are persecuted but we see we must hold on to the truth.

How can we convince others? Not by human efforts alone. We need the same miraculous power that has kept the Church afloat all this time, despite so many external persecutions and internal divisions; so much sin and scandal from the disciples of Christ.

It has to be a miracle we have come this far.

Many say the Church is corrupt, so why join it? It is still the Body of Christ, still the vehicle He uses to save the world, still the tree to which we must be joined.

This is one of the things He was telling us in parables, and which we are still challenged to understand. There is one Saviour and only one. Any alternative and we will not be saved.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

24th Sunday after Pentecost 8 Nov 2015 Sermon

24th Sunday after Pentecost (with 5th Sunday after Epiphany) 8.11.15 Prayer for the dead

The Gospel foreshadows the final judgment (the separation of the wheat and the darnel).

At this time of year we consider more closely the end of things; the end of our lives; the end of the world. We pray for those who have already died that they receive a merciful judgment, and the full purification necessary to enter Heaven.

We believe judgment occurs at the moment of death, but also that prayer can work backwards in time.

So if I hear that X has died last week, I can still pray now that he be judged mercifully. God can see all time at once so a late prayer can still be effective.

When we ask God to be merciful to a sinner we are not asking Him to do something differently than He is already doing. God is merciful anyway!

But we are encouraged to ask, all the same. Our prayer is more to do with the human response than with God's initiative.

We can ask that certain people be forgiven but they may not want to be forgiven. They may have resentment towards God. They may be hardened in sin so that they do not want to give it up.

It is much the same problem as we have praying for living people to convert to a holy life. Many simply do not want to do this.

In which case we are asking for a burst of divine grace and mercy to open the hearts and minds of the dead and move them to true sorrow, a perfect sorrow which grasps the full weight of their sin and leads them to a complete renunciation of it.

This is how we are made ready for Heaven; we have to be transformed to the point that we see things in exactly the same light as God sees them.

When we pray for others we are transmitting the love of God to those other people. It is not that God's love increases – because it is already infinite – but that it is focused on the one being prayed for. (Like magnifying the rays of the sun through a magnifying glass – it can start a fire).

The more people praying the more things will happen.

It is up to each person whether or not he receives the mercy that is being offered. Some will hold out against it. That itself can be overcome with prayer. Many layers of resistance are possible; it just means we have to pray more.

And this at a time when many no longer think they need to pray for the dead. It means we must pray overtime to make up for those who do not pray.

A second aspect of our prayer for the dead is for the souls in Purgatory.

Purgatory is a place for those who have been forgiven but still need perfecting before entering Heaven.

For example, a murder committed in anger could be forgiven, but there is probably still some anger in the heart of the murderer, which would take longer to remove.

It is not so easy to be free of all attachment to sin. And we cannot enter Heaven with any imperfection.

It is one thing to stay out of hell, but not so easy to get to Heaven!

We do not know who is in Purgatory and what each person’s particular need is but we trust that our prayers and sacrifices are helping in some way.

And as we pray for the perfecting of others, of course we take on the lessons ourselves and seek perfection in our response to God’s grace and mercy – before and after death!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

All Saints 1 Nov 2015 Sermon

All Saints 1.11.15 The call to be saints

Today’s feast is a chance for us to celebrate the ‘unsung saints’ those who have reached Heaven, but are not canonised saints.

Today is a time to acknowledge the good that has been achieved by members of the Church over the years. Faithful attention to duty, courage under duress, temptations and sins resisted, good works of every kind. The living out of the Beatitudes.

These saints have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. They have obtained mercy for their sins and been found faithful at the time of death.

It is encouraging that ordinary people we have known - aunties and uncles, teachers we had at school; people who were old when we were young – that people like these who were ordinary in their lives, and probably only ordinary in virtue, could now be in Heaven. It gives us hope of achieving the same thing.

We would like to be better than ‘ordinary’; but it is comforting all the same that there is a ‘safety net’ in place. Thank God for Confession!

However we are called to holiness. We must not see the commandments as a burden, something to be resented. Nor must we water them down as so many are trying to do.

The commands of God are a liberation. What God tells us to do must be the best thing for us, and it must be possible to fulfil. God could not command the impossible, and would not set us anything but the best course. We could never think of anything better ourselves.

So we do not fear holiness. It is just a matter of seeing it in the right light.

If we are told: you must be good all the time; and never do anything wrong – that can sound like a burden; each command gradually tightening the grip on us till we give up all our pleasures, and see ourselves being reduced to singing in the choir at church!

But the same thing can be put in other words: Would you like to discover the life as planned by God directly for you? To discover the potential happiness that can be uncovered as you grow in acceptance of God's will for you?

Self-improvement courses are very popular at present. You can learn how to speed-read, improve your memory, master public speaking, and become proficient at Windows 10… and all such things. They will enhance your life.

But not so much as you will be enhanced if you simply discover the ways of God and how immediately and directly He will work with you in your life; how joyful it will be for you to be in communion with Him; taking instructions from Him; gradually overcoming faults and discovering the corresponding virtues.

To be an All-Saint is to be in tune with the will of God. There are different levels of sainthood. It depends on how many talents we were given in the first place. Also it depends on how soon we enter the service of the Lord.

The longer we spend in the Lord’s service the better; the sooner we start in the vineyard the better.

But then intensity is a factor. One could come in later but be far more zealous in the service of the Lord than someone who has been around longer.

You are here now and that is a good thing. Wherever you have been, whatever you have done, now you are expressing your willingness to put your lives in His hands.

Do not be afraid of what He has in store for you. Be assured He will forgive you for anything and everything up to this point, and He will guide and sustain you in whatever comes next.

Is it all worth it? Ask any saint! May the Lord make us saints, and bring us through every obstacle to the greatest heights we can reach.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

All Souls Day Masses

Low Mass for All Souls Day, Monday 2nd November 2015 will be
These are all at St Monica's, Walkerville
There will be a Solemn Mass at Holy Name, St Peters, 6.30pm