Thursday, 17 August 2017

10th Sunday after Pentecost 13 Aug 2017 Sermon

10th Sunday after Pentecost 13.8.17 Pride

Many people, in these times, suffer from a lack of self-esteem, a sense of their own worth.

Many even commit suicide, thinking that nobody cares for them one way or the other.

We are supposed to feel good about ourselves. Even better still we are supposed to be good; and that is the surest way to feel good.

Being good, and feeling good, come as we learn how God regards us; when we see ourselves as created by God, loved by Him, and valuable to Him. If we are valuable to God we must be somebody, and so we are.

This is ‘good’ pride, when all we are and have is bound up with God. In due proportion we can take pride in our work, our houses, our appearance, our community etc. This is all fine as long as these things do not become false gods.

We are planets to God’s sun. He is the centre, and we revolve around Him. He is the reference point at all times.

Constant prayer and practice will be necessary to enable us to keep this perspective; to end any rebellion within us, and at the same time enhance our sense of worth.

We find ourselves happy to be created beings. We might bristle at first, wanting to assert independence; but we come to appreciate God's goodness, and are happy to be subservient to Him.

We are happy once we have trimmed the excesses of minds and hearts; pulled heads in, as regards our self-importance; simply accepting what we are; just happy to be any part of God's family.

Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvellous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul.
Ps 130 (131), 1-2

Not everyone accepts the status of created being. Especially not the devil. The source of his sin was pride. He thought himself better than God, or at least more important. He wanted to be god himself; so he created his own empire.

This has been the problem ever since. All sin springs from pride, the wrong sort of pride.

Wrong pride is when we exclude God from the picture, and set up in business for ourselves; as though to say: I am the most important person around here.

This leads to lots of sin, and disorder. The world is so much infected with sin that we can take things as normal which are very much abnormal.

A world where most people lie, and get angry, have impure desires, carry grudges, cheat in business, and put themselves first – this is how it is, but is not how it is meant to be.

It is meant to be as it is in Heaven, where everyone is lost in awe of God, and obeying freely - Our Lady being the supreme example.

She can help us in this direction.

Pride can get at us even when we are doing the right thing. The Pharisee (Gospel) was too pleased with himself, thinking his goodness was the result of his own efforts.

Even if we do something virtuous, it is only by the grace of God.

The sins are our fault; the good we do is from Him.

Sins happen when we assert ourselves against God. Repentance is when we get back into right alignment with Him.

The publican got all this in his brief prayer: Lord, be merciful to me a sinner (Lk 18,13) .
On every point we have to be right with God – in thought, word, deed, ambition, desires, self- understanding, fitting in with others, taking our place in God’s overall plan.

All this follows from a true understanding of how things are set up – which comes with humility.

May the Lord keep us – or make us – humble, enabling us to appreciate our true worth in his sight.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Feast of the Transfiguration 6 Aug 2017 Sermon

Feast of the Transfiguration 6.8.17

We can feel good and feel bad at the same time. How do you feel, we ask each other. It depends what we look at. We are happy if we think about some things; unhappy if we think about other things. Both situations apply, at any time.

It makes us happy to think about God and His goodness to us. It makes us unhappy to think about all our various problems, personal or more general.

The Transfiguration, which we celebrate today, is one time, comparatively rare, that God shows His glory to us below; a miraculous display making a very welcome relief to the usual humdrum of our existence.

Such a revelation will always make us happy. It is a reminder from God that our reasons for joy greatly outweigh our reasons for sadness.

The occasional moment of ecstasy lifts us above our normal patterns of thinking, and gives us new energy for the future.

We do not ‘see’ God very often.

This is, for one part, because He is so much beyond us, in His infinite glory. We simply cannot take Him in. It is like trying to empty out the ocean using a bottle.

Further limiting us is our sinfulness. We have spread darkness by our sins, thus making it harder still to perceive the presence of God.

Our perception being thus dulled, we spend much of our time feeling gloomy and miserable about our various problems.

God, having mercy on us in our miseries, throws us a lifeline. He assures us at critical times that what we have believed about Him all along, is still true.

The consolations may be short and rare, but they connect us with a reality that is permanent and always close – the goodness of God, and His saving will towards us.

The negative feelings can be dissolved in the greater reality.

We keep our eyes (the eyes of faith) fixed on Our Lord, as did Peter when he began to walk on water. When he lowered his gaze, he began to sink (Mt 14,29-30).

We cannot generate consolations at will, but there are certain things we can do to bolster our sense of God’s goodness, and closeness - lots of prayer, reflection, meditation, noting His miracles, small and large.

Thus we develop a level of trust in Him, that He will never leave us abandoned.

So if you ask me how I feel, I feel good and bad at the same time, but the good is much deeper and more enduring. This is how St Paul can exhort us to ‘rejoice always’ (Ph 4,4).

Drawing upon that reservoir of joy we can change our thoughts and feelings. A sense of order and peace descends upon us. Anticipation of better things to come will sustain us.

This is not just wishful thinking, or playing with words. It is a real fact - that God is close to us - from which we draw strength.

We are told, especially when nervous, to take deep breaths. Our breathing is generally too shallow. In the spiritual world, we take ‘shallow breaths’ when we pray hurriedly and in a distracted manner.

If we really allow ourselves to be still and know that He is God (Ps 45,10), we will see more with the eyes of faith, and perceive with the heart.

We will not let sadness prevail. We must not be like the millionaire living as a miser. We call upon the riches we possess. We find consolation for every trouble, while troubles still last, eventually entering our own share of transfigured glory.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

8th Sunday after Pentecost 30 Jul 2017 Sermon

8th Sunday after Pentecost 30.7.17 Means and Ends

In the movies the bad guys will use bad means to get their desired objective. They will shoot you in the back if it suits them. The good guys would never do that!

As Christians we have to be good all the time, so we cannot use evil means to get to a good end. Many think that the end justifies the means, but no, it has always been Church teaching that we cannot do evil to achieve good.

For example, Euthanasia. We hasten someone’s death to spare him pain. A good end but the wrong means.

To achieve good we must do good all along the way. The end and the means converge.

All our actions and intentions must be good, as being united with the will of God, who is incapable of evil, either intent or action.

The temptation will come to us to bend the rules, to cut a corner, so that we can reach the desired objective more easily. We are tempted to improve on God's way. Recall Moses, who was told to speak to the rock and it would bring forth water. He hit the rock instead, trying to improve on the instructions – for which he was severely punished (Num 20,8-12).

Whereas, if we go with God's way, slow as it may seem, the overall effect will be far better.

They even tried to tell Our Lord how He could improve on things (Mt 16,23-26). Peter is trying to talk Our Lord out of His prophesied death. It does seem a natural response, but not the right one.

Our Lord took a longer route, giving up His power (temporarily). How can it be better to be nailed to a cross, than to be doing miracles? But it was better.

Constantly, we are tempted to break God's commands: Thou shalt not commit adultery. People say that is too hard altogether, so they do commit adultery in one or other form of impurity.

Thou shalt not steal: the people defraud and cheat each other, and all to gain some sort of temporal advantage.

We all lose out when God’s ways are ignored. Repeated sin brings trouble on the whole society, making us insecure (for example, having to lock our houses, being afraid to go out at night).

If we would obey instead, we would save ourselves a lot of trouble.

Better to be honest, and wait for the daily bread that has been promised.

We have to exercise some trust here - just try it and see what happens.
I will not steal, cheat, lie defraud. I will treat everyone as I would want them to treat me. With integrity, justice etc.

It can go two ways for us if we obey God in all matters. It might lead to prosperity, an increase in our fortunes; or it might lead to adversity and apparent failure, in which case the blessings will be in another form, less obvious, but sooner or later it must come good.

There must always be a way out of every problem without resorting to sinful behaviour. People will say this is not the case. But it has to be true, whether we can see it or not.

So we are going to do this from now on – live in the spirit not the flesh (epistle). We will be the good guys, not shooting anyone in the back.

It is highly possible someone will shoot us in the back, but even that will be made right by God.

As Scripture puts it in many places – for example - The last shall be first (Mt 20,16); those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. (Ps 124,1); those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy (Ps 125,5-6); many are the trials of the just man but from them all the Lord delivers him (Ps 33,19).

Thursday, 27 July 2017

7th Sunday after Pentecost 23 Jul 2017 Sermon

7th Sunday after Pentecost 23.7.17 Character

We are promised a very great reward at the end of our lives, eternal joyful life.

But we would like a little more happiness before that. We might have a feeling that we are not being sufficiently compensated in the short term.

We love the idea of heaven, but is there anything sooner?

Well, reward comes in many forms. Our Lord promised His disciples that if they forsook father, mother, etc they would be repaid a hundredfold …even in this life (Mk 10,29-30).

Not a hundred times more assets, but in terms of satisfaction we would be a hundred times happier than if we remained attached to all those things.

We find that in this life we can have a workable level of happiness. While we do not usually feel like dancing in the street, there is a steady sense of contentment that enables us to proceed in hope of better things coming.

If we do things God's way we will experience love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Ga 5,22).     We will have these things in ourselves even if they are not in surrounding circumstances.

If we need extra incentive we are told (epistle): the wages of sin are death. Sinful life leads to sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy (Galatians 5,19-21).

We keep a slow and steady pace, realizing that whatever difficulties we encounter are permitted by God for our purification.

And to increase our capacity to enjoy eternal life. This can be called the building up of a Christian character. The suffering enables us to direct ourselves to longer term goals. We recognize the transient nature of earthly happiness, so we look beyond for something better.

Christian character means that we understand doing good and being good, not just as obligations, but arising from a purity of mind and heart which seeks to please God.

In such a person there is a consistency between thought, word and deed - all of which are designed to please God, whether they be public or private, and whether or not they will receive approval from others.

This is our reward! If we are developed to this point we find that goodness will flow naturally from a proper relationship with God – like a branch from a tree (Jn 15, 5).

Or like a tree which bears good fruit (today’s Gospel). We bear good fruit because we are good all the way to the inside.

The goodness asked of us is more than just doing a few helpful deeds around the place, like bringing in the neighbour’s rubbish bin, or lending the lawn mower.

The good asked of a disciple of Christ is much more demanding. It requires us to love God above all else, meaning to put His will ahead of one’s own at all times.

This requires all sorts of things, like forgiving enemies, helping the poor, never losing our temper, always being humble etc.

It takes constant prayer and interaction with God to be like this; to get the right perspectives, so that we are not looking for instant delights all the time, but able to go the whole distance.

And to see that our religion is our whole life, not just a part thereof, or an external gloss.

The wages are coming. Not in money, but in interior joy; simply being good, and the peace that comes with that.

We are then like a bird in flight, or a fish swimming. We have discovered our true identity -  a child of God, a disciple of Christ, operating at full capacity, as we were always meant to be.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

6th Sunday after Pentecost 16 Jul 2017 Sermon

6th Sunday after Pentecost 16.7.17 Multiplication

There are so many things to pray for. We could not even list all the situations that need prayer, let alone make the prayer. Even just one person, picked at random, would provide us many things to pray for, as every life has its dramas and crises.

Accordingly we can feel overwhelmed by the size and number of the problems we face, and give up before we start, as far as praying goes.

We feel with the apostles: How can we feed so many? And as to five loaves and two fish, what use is such a small amount of food?

Our own helplessness can work in our favour by forcing us to look elsewhere for solutions.
We look to God because only He can supply the power needed.

How much prayer is not made because of discouragement, or lack of faith? If that prayer had been made, who knows what would have been achieved? There is nothing to lose, at least.

When we pray for a person or situation we are handing over the five loaves of our faith and trusting in Our Lord to multiply that offering, making it abundant in its results.

Every prayer we make has implied in it another prayer: that what we pray will be taken to God by Our Mother Mary and the saints, and so made pleasing to Him.

Our prayer becomes more credible and our small offering becomes more formidable. Multiplied in its intensity the prayer will be more likely to make things happen.

Five loaves become thousands of loaves, enough to feed thousands - an image of the abundance of God, and His ability to make more from less, or something from nothing.

We should never allow discouragement to hinder our prayer. Rather we keep that prayer coming, day and night.

We bring what we have. There is much in the world we cannot control, but we can control our own attitude, our generosity of heart, our expectancy of God's help. These are things we can increase.

A lot of the situations we pray for involve the free will of other people, and that is a very hard thing to harness (even God finds that difficult!)  But I can at least bring my own free will to comply with God’s will, and that is the recipe for success.

Our prayer has to be constant, filled with faith and hope, and made from a pure and generous heart – all things which themselves need prayer. If we are serious, God will help us at all levels at once - our own personal disposition, and the actual things we pray for.

We pray for everything at once - large and small, spiritual and material. Simply that God’s goodness be evident everywhere.

We pray for big things, like salvation of souls – the dead, the dying, all who most need the mercy of God; conversion of sinners.
For physical needs, like freedom from war and disaster.
For everyday things, like finding the car keys, safe travel.

It is hard work, but life is short and in the context of eternity who can object to a little bit of exertion.

The scene of the Gospel is repeated a thousand times in our lives: we see a big problem and we do not see the solution.

We bring forth what we have (faith, hope, trust) and we let God work the miracle that is needed.

We remember to thank Him and make sure that each miracle goes into the stock of our memory for the next time we need faith.

With the apostles, we say: Lord, teach us to pray (Lk 11,1). And then, hear our prayer.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

5th Sunday after Pentecost 9 Jul 2017 Sermon

5th Sunday after Pentecost 9.7.17 Generosity

There is a general tone set in today’s readings, and many similar passages, that we (as disciples of Christ) should put in more than we take out; give more than we receive.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  (Lk 6,32-34)

This is the whole nature of God Himself, in creating us; and then further, in saving us. He is giving more than He could ever receive from us.

To be His disciple we have to adopt the same pattern: we lend without expecting to receive back, we bless those who curse us (Rm 12,14); we go the extra mile for the sake of the other person (Mt 5,41). Above all, we forgive those who offend us (Mt 6,12).

This was the way Christ lived on earth, and the constant lesson He gives us who seek to follow Him. He came to serve, not to be served (Mk 10,45).

We are tempted to say that all this is too hard; and it is not fair either. If someone comes and robs me, and bashes me up, I am supposed to bless him?

Too hard it may seem at first, and many simply dismiss these teachings as poetic ideals.

But God does not command the impossible. The difficult maybe, but not the impossible

We can find our way into this by drawing upon the much greater love that God has given us. cf parable of unforgiving debtor (Mt 18,21-35).

I can forgive because God has forgiven me a lot more. I can love because God has loved me a lot more.

We draw the extra ‘fuel’ from Christ Himself, as we receive from Him in the sacraments, and through prayer. This is our daily nutrition. This is how we become strong enough to find such seemingly unlikely qualities.

At the same time we nourish our minds also. We keep at the forefront of our minds the teaching of Our Lord. We do not dismiss it as an impossible ideal. Nor do we just drift away from it, following worldly wisdom instead.

The world keeps religion for just a few ceremonial occasions, and then goes back to pursuing its own goals, without a thought for God.

It is our job, not only to live like this, but to show it to the world; to be a light on the hilltop (Mt 5,14).

We have become accustomed to the idea that the disciples of Christ are very different from Christ Himself. The disciples of Christ are a kind of mixture of the spiritual and the worldly, good and bad at different times.

This is what it has become, but not what is supposed to be.

We have to raise the standard; keep the vision where Christ Himself put it.

And then draw upon the grace and power of God to lift us to the required level. This will maintain in us the constant willingness to give rather than to receive.

As to our enemies, those who do not love us: we hope that the love of God will act on them and transform them. So enemies become friends.

We are ready to disperse God’s blessings generously. How can we be stingy with His gifts?
Why be envious because I am generous? (Mt 20,15)

Even if others do not change, there is great benefit for us to have these attitudes, to draw from the wellsprings of Christ. His charity nourishes and sanctifies us.

The blessings from Heaven are like rain - which falls anyway, not because of our efforts, but for our benefit. Grace is like that, with the difference that we can guarantee receiving it on request - which may not happen with rain.

May His blessings fall upon us now, as we call upon Him.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

4th Sunday after Pentecost 2 Jul 2017 Sermon

4th Sunday after Pentecost 2.7.17 Conversion

Peter is overawed. He sinks to the ground before the Lord. He is doing what we should all do. In every Mass we say Domine, non sum dignus.

It is true. None of us is worthy, even if we were sinless, because we are still so inferior to God.

We humble ourselves, primarily to glorify God. It is His goodness we are acknowledging, and how far He is above us.

As to us: we will never be worthy but we can go some way to be less unworthy, to give God the best we can give.

Grasping the goodness of God, we are more likely to behave according to His will; to behave not only in external compliance, but with an internal desire to please Him. Because we are so caught up in wonder, we do not, or would not, seek to overrule Him,

Some sort of revelation is required - a ‘Peter’ moment. Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man.
This is a moment of clearer than usual insight into the state of things. I have been doing the wrong thing, or been on the wrong track for a long time. Maybe I can come back.

This could happen in various ways. God has the whole universe and all its forces and processes at His disposal. He is an artist with many brushes and paints to call upon.
For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity. Wis 7, 25

A bad conscience is hard to live with, but it can be buried under a lot of transient experiences, and false gods.

The noise of our present society is partly to drown out the voice of conscience, and the voice of God. All the noise in the world, however, cannot avoid coming to terms with God at some point.

It is better to listen to Him than to try to hide from Him. The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made. (Ps 145,9)

When we pray for conversion of sinners this is what we mean – that each person will have a moment of truth, a realization of his own nothingness, and the infinite goodness of God.

Then, when humbled enough, they will be ready to be filled with His grace and live a new life.

Post-conversion brings other problems. If we have been converted we have to keep working on our level of holiness.

We need to be always in a state of readiness, like a well-maintained vehicle that can be used at any moment.

There are so many points to consider, so many moral demands, and situations we meet.

There are so many ways to go wrong; but also so many opportunities for growth.

We may be going well in one area of our lives, not so well in another one.

We need to maintain an intensity of commitment, not giving way to discouragement.

Whenever we need encouragement we go back to the basics such as in today’s Gospel.

We recall God's power to do anything.

We recall His willingness to engage with us; indeed it is all for us in the first place.

Note that Peter requested Our Lord to leave, but He did not leave. Nor does He leave us.

He is prepared to stay, and work on the sinners! He hopes that each sinner can be turned into a saint. This was the whole idea of His coming in the first place.

We are continuously converted towards Him, growing in holiness; thus being more likely to draw others into the Church – fishers of men.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

3rd Sunday after Pentecost 25 Jun 2017 Sermon

3rd Sunday after Pentecost 25.6.17 Mercy

The mercy of God is our foundation and security. We do not like having to ask for mercy all the time, but still we are glad it is there – like a safety net for the trapeze artists.

Even if we fall many times, He will forgive us ‘seventy times seven’ (Mt 18,22).

It is amazing that He perseveres with us. But this is His Sacred Heart, which burns like a furnace with love for man.

Or the Good Shepherd, who goes out to seek even one lost sheep, when others might write off the loss.

We are grateful to Our Lord for His mercy, and we resolve, with His grace, to amend our lives as needed.

We want also to make positive contributions as part of our atonement - to help save others, which we know is His great desire.

We must want what He wants, that other sheep be saved. The ninety-nine sheep should be rejoicing when the lost sheep returns. As should the older brother have rejoiced in the return of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15, 25-30).

The Sacred Heart burns with love for mankind. When it comes to us, it can be that the only ‘burning’ is that of anger against those who have offended us!

We know we are supposed to forgive others, but we can be very grudging on that point.

Not many would have a burning love for their neighbour, especially the neighbour who has offended us - but that is just where God is different. This is one of His mysteries, and one that really hits home to us, because we find it so difficult.

God is infinitely merciful, but we can be more interested in the claims of justice than mercy. We feel acutely any wrong others do to us, and we share the general rage against wrongdoers – murderers, terrorists, thieves, rapists etc.

God goes so much further and deeper than we do. We need to let more of His way sink in, and it will change us for the good.

We have just been asking (at Pentecost) the Holy Spirit to inflame our hearts. This is part of the process – that our hearts be inflamed with the merciful love of God, giving us a desire to forgive others.

It is easier to understand at the physical level. We are glad to help someone who is in some physical difficulty – trapped in a fire, fallen in the river etc. At such times a common humanity comes in, and we feel compassion for the one in need. We do not stop to consider: is this a good or a bad person? We simply want to help.

We just need to stretch that compassion to the moral sphere as well. We feel sorry for the sinner; sorry that he has taken whatever wrong turnings to get to where he is; anxious to help him back to the right path.

Seen in this light we have goodwill, after all, even for bad people, even those who offend us. We just want to rescue the one in need.

We draw warmth from the Sacred Heart.  Only He can open our hearts to the sort of charity to which He calls us. We are capable of it, because that is how we will be in Heaven. In Heaven no one ever has an uncharitable thought. We will be delighted to see our worst enemy there with us.

If that sounds unlikely just yet, it means we are not ready for Heaven. That is what Purgatory is for, to purify us of all wrong ways of thinking. We can begin the process in this life.

We are made in God's image; and through the sacraments we share His inner life. We cannot keep attitudes which are alien to Him, and still expect to live with Him.

We look for the good in people; we want to see them restored by God's mercy.

Meanwhile He wants it far more than we ever could. And we have to be grateful for that.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sacred Heart feast

Mass on Friday 23rd June 2017, the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart will be at St Monica's Church 6.45am.
Holy Name Church will have Low Mass at 7am, and 6.30pm Sung Mass.

2nd Sunday after Pentecost 18 Jun 2017 Sermon

2nd Sunday after Pentecost 18.6.17 Eucharistic banquet

Think of some of the best meals you have ever had, and you can probably recall many good ones, with enticing food and drink, and a general feeling of coming away satisfied.

The Mass is often described as a Eucharistic Banquet. Today’s Gospel: God invites everyone. Many think they are too busy – too busy for the One who made the whole universe!

The Eucharist challenges us to believe beyond the power of our senses to detect. Our sense of sight cannot see the divinity within the consecrated Host. Our sense of taste cannot detect the wonder of this special food.

Yet we believe in faith that Holy Communion is a far more enriching meal than any earthly banquet. St Thomas Aquinas refers to it as: … the banquet where [the Father], with [His] Son and Holy Spirit, are true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to [His] saints. 

We could say of the earthly banquet that it will not make you a better person, whereas the Heavenly banquet will, if properly undertaken. One banquet will make you feel better; the other will make you actually better, as a person.

The Heavenly food will make us more at peace, and generally able to handle things in a better way. It will have a healing effect, transforming us, enabling us to overcome faults, to grow in virtues, to have a clearer understanding of everything relevant.

People will say: I can do all that from home. I don’t need the Eucharist, the Church etc. I can just think about my life, and decide to be a better person. But without the grace of the Heavenly food the human will power runs dry.

We are too bound-up with sinful patterns of thought and behaviour; too many bad habits and generally suffering from mediocrity in terms of doing God's will. Without much to inspire us we will fall flat.

Not every reception of Holy Communion will necessarily bring about change in the one receiving. A lot will depend on one’s disposition, level of faith, the desire for holiness, the recognition that change is possible. The more we want to benefit, the more likely it is to happen. We cultivate the spiritual hunger.

The satisfaction of a good dinner is immediate, but it wears off quickly. The satisfaction from Holy Communion is less obvious, but lasts a lot longer, insofar as it prepares us for eternity.

The Eucharist unlocks or enables many things. We can be in control of all our various emotions and desires. This is true freedom - not the freedom to do as we like, but freedom from slavery to disordered desires.

We are free to go anywhere or do anything the Lord directs. We can be content with poverty or plenty, full stomach or empty (Ph 4,12).

If we lack faith that can be supplied by the Eucharist. Come and be fed, and let the Lord work on us, and within us. If we are even half-interested He will show what is necessary and possible, and the changes will happen.

We will be cooperating, but most of the energy comes from God Himself.

Faith can be supplied, as can enthusiasm, and the ability to persevere. Just as food restores strength, so with spiritual food. This is why we must come repeatedly to this Banquet.

We come every Sunday (at least), and we come with the preparation to appreciate the more subtle workings of this Heavenly food.

This is the best place to be, offering the best food to be found anywhere!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Trinity Sunday 11 June 2017 Sermon

Trinity Sunday 11.6.17 Praising God

Who made the world? God made the world.

But who made God, the question sometimes follows. No one made God because He had no beginning. He always was.

Or, better to say that He exists outside of time and does not change. It was He who created time, with its past and future. For Himself there is no past or future; only an eternal Now.

This is hard to grasp, but no less true for that. Many falter on belief in God because they cannot understand His infinity, His eternity, and they settle for some view that they find more manageable – like saying there is no God at all; or forming a lesser god, such as an animal or something of one’s own making (eg golden calf, Ex 32).

Dealing with God we have to start with what He tells us, not what we tell Him! We have to deal with reality as it is, not how we might shape it.

So today we acknowledge our belief in God, and all He has revealed to us.

Today is God's own feast day, a day for reflection on His own self. On this day especially we give Him praise and thanks.

Our main purpose for existing is to know love and serve God. This we might find difficult: for one thing we are tempted to ignore God and go our own way. For another thing, even with the right intentions, we find it hard to hold concepts of God in our mind, being creatures who rely so much on what we can see, hear, touch etc.

We can work our way to the mysterious world of God through prayer, sacraments, and holy lives.

We have the liturgical worship of the Church to help us along because the Mass and Office and Adoration are direct praise of God. We do not have to rely only on what we can produce in our own minds.

God the Son, having human nature, helps us greatly because in that human nature He worships God also!

We are very small players here, being lifted to great heights, to which we could never ascend without God’s own help.

We are finite beings and we cannot hope to exhaust Infinity. It is sufficient if we can just get within His range (comparable to getting sunlight, without needing to go to the Sun).

We must avoid the temptation to skip the worship of God, and go straight into asking Him for things. He wants us to ask, but we should position ourselves correctly before we do that.

Yet while we honour Him for His infinite goodness, we can still claim His direct attention in our tiny lives.

He can be micro as well as macro.

We can talk to Him, without even needing a phone! But we must not forget His greatness and take Him for granted. We can be close but never disrespectful.

Our requests will come out of a proper perspective, humble and expectant, able to adapt to whatever He decides.

What He most wants from us is that we learn to love – firstly, to love Him, in awe of His wonders, and in gratitude for His goodness to us.

Then, to love one another, which is the natural consequence of a proper relationship with God.

Considering God as Trinity we gain some insight into His nature: that He is within Himself a community of Love.

We are striving to get everyone to love one another down here, but God does it perfectly.

There has never been a single argument in His own community. The Church on earth should be as harmonious as the life of the Trinity in Heaven. Obviously we have to do a lot more work on that point, but at least we know where we are headed.

It is an insult to God if we introduce discord into His perfect creation – We owe it to Him to get this right.

All glory be to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Pentecost Sunday 4 Jun 2017 Sermon

Pentecost Sunday 4.6.17 History

Our Lord once lamented the fate of Jerusalem (Lk 19,41-44). If only they had realised the true position, and believed in Him. then they would be spared the destruction which was building up over them.

So much depends on human response as to whether a situation will get better or worse.

History is full of situations where we could say: if only this had happened instead of that. A certain battle, or choice of king, or revolution - might have happened or not happened as we would want.

The way the Church has gone over the last 2000 years is a case in point. We have a very mixed report card.

We started well – at this first Pentecost. For a brief time there was complete unity in the Church, and miracles galore.

But soon the trouble started, and there were people teaching false doctrines, people looking out for themselves first; and just plain old sin. The Church experienced division, and the weakness that follows from that.

Since then we have had good and bad times. We have never managed to recapture that first blissful time of Pentecost.

We should have done better than we have done. If only… if only more people had prayed; if only they would pray now. Our Lord must weep now as He looks over the world, and sees the disasters which must come if there is not some wide-scale repentance.

God is so much disobeyed, denied, ignored. People try to bury Him altogether. All this is increasingly blatant.  People used to be ashamed of their sins. Not now!

Why have we not made more progress? Each generation should learn from the mistakes of previous ones, but it seems they do not, even getting worse in some cases. We are slow to learn.

No matter how many disasters, it seems people will continue to rebel against God, and even use those disasters as ‘proof’ there is no God (according to them)!

Here we come in, and say like the prophets of old: Behold your God! He has not gone away; His arm is not shortened. He is the same God who came down on the apostles at Pentecost.

He has all the same love, goodness, power, as ever. And He is just as willing now as then to transform us in faith, hope and charity.

This is our time. We are the people alive at the present moment. It is up to us to turn the ‘if only’ into reality.

If they look back on us in the year 2017 they will see disciples of Christ who were willing to pray with real perseverance and intensity, as at the first Pentecost.

We need more on deck, more prayer, more faith, more fervour.

We are very much in the minority at the moment. Minority in two senses: that most people in the world do not believe in the true God. And that even many who profess faith have only very faint belief, and are not contributing at present.

What massive potential for good there is if this sleeping majority of Catholics would awaken?

Well, we are awake, and we must pray, like never before.

Even one person praying can achieve much (eg Moses saving Israel from destruction in the desert because of its disobedience eg Ex 32,30-33).

We must pray then, alone, with others, with the whole Church, for a lot of saving that needs to happen.

We pray that the hearts and minds of many will be turned to the one true God, and all that follows from that. This will avert the disasters which threaten us, and bring us salvation – now and in eternity.

Come Holy Ghost!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Sunday after Ascension 28 May 2017 Sermon

Sunday after Ascension 28.5.17 Heaven

We have just celebrated the Feast of the Ascension. At the Ascension Our Lord leaves us, and we might grieve about that. But on a little reflection we see that He has to go to His proper place, which is Heaven.

Heaven is also our proper place (in God’s plan), and Our Lord is paving the way there for us. He goes to prepare us a place (Jn 14,3).

Heaven can wait Curiously for such a good place we do not necessarily want to hurry there. It is best to leave the timing to God. We are with Him here or there, and that is the main thing. He will call us when the time is right.

The credibility of Heaven. It is hard for us to visualise Heaven. We have not seen it; and we find we do not have the vocabulary or the concepts to understand it.
It is no less real for that. The reality of something does not depend on our ability to understand or explain it (eg the intricacies of weather, or flight, or outer space).
Some will refuse to believe for just this reason - that they cannot understand it, or have not experienced it. But that is to try to fit the ocean into a bucket. Finite beings must give way to Infinity.

(It is not hard, at least, to imagine a place better than earth!)

The beauty of Heaven. Heaven is often caricatured as people sitting on clouds and playing harps. Or in films, it is portrayed as a slow-motion sort of place, with a ghostly atmosphere – a place with less life and vitality than here on earth. In fact Heaven is far more alive than earth. Sin and death have no place there. There is nothing to impede the flow of life.

Even this earth, with all its sin, still staggers us with its beauty. Yet we are just one planet in a universe with billions of stars. Do we doubt that God, who made all this, can come up with something better than we have seen so far?

The happiness of Heaven is also oversimplified when understood as merely the continuation of the same pleasures we had on earth. The happiness of Heaven far exceeds that of earth.
The greatest happiness of Heaven is union with God. The Creator must be greater than the things He has created. If we enjoy those things we will enjoy Him even more.
In Heaven we shall see Him face to face. We will perceive Him directly, though still not penetrating all the mysteries.
It will be like being thirsty all the time, but able to relieve that thirst at the same time.
Appetite and satisfaction will always be at their fullest.
What do we do in the meantime For now we must pursue our everyday lives, just doing our duty, as well as we can, with as little complaint as we can manage. We find God amidst this life, through prayer and sacraments, and we see His handiwork among us.
St Paul tells us we are already in Heaven with Christ, and our thoughts should be on Heavenly things (Col 3,1-4). We have to reprogramme our minds to be less attached to things of this earth.
We live by Heavenly thoughts, applying what we learn from them to this earthly life.
We have the Heavenly currency, called ‘grace’, to enable us to live earthly life in a Heavenly way – for example, being charitable, patient, forgiving - instead of the opposites.

May the Lord bring us all safely to that place, which is our true home (Ph,3,20).

Thursday, 25 May 2017

5th Sunday after Easter 21 May 2017 Sermon

5th Sunday after Easter 21.5.17 Praying through Mary

Our Lord, in today’s Gospel, is encouraging His disciples to pray to Him directly. They had been praying to the Father; now they can pray to the Son.

He is opening another avenue for them to reach Heaven with their prayers.

God wants us to pray, which is to communicate with Him.

He wants us to feel the assurance of His closeness to us. He does not want our prayer to be like a desperate shouting in the void, hoping someone is going to hear it.

He wants us to see ourselves as part of His family; somewhere we belong. So we can pray to the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, Our Lady, the saints, the angels; and we have each other to intercede for our needs.

Sometimes we pray with other people; always we pray with the communion of saints, the citizens of Heaven, who join their prayer with ours, especially if we ask them.

We need not fear that prayer addressed to someone less than God in any way takes away from our duty to put God first.

Seeing the Church as family - if I speak to my mother, does that mean I love my father any less? No, in a happy family people can talk to each other without any fear that someone else is being left out. All feel comfortable with each other.

This is how God wants us to be. With increasing faith will come increasing charity, whereby we all believe and want the same things.

There is a concern for many Christians that prayer to Mary, in particular, is somehow in opposition to God.

If we pray to Mary, however, the prayer will be improved not weakened. We can be assured that any prayer directed to her goes also to God; made more pleasing to Him because it is now her prayer as well as ours.

If we include her in our prayers we will benefit as we reach a deeper maturity in praying. We are not just asking for things all the time; and not just wanting material or physical blessings. Instead we learn to value the spiritual qualities that are so much better for us.

We come, in short, to be more like Mary herself, totally conformed to the will of God, and joyful in that state.

She will teach us to be humble. Our prayer is confident, but it must also be reverent and deferential, never demanding.

Son, they have no wine, is the model! Not telling Him what to do, but in the security of a loving relationship, able to mention a problem.

The demanding approach is to hold God to ransom. Hear this prayer, or I will stop believing in you!

With Our Lady we learn to trust God in all things at all times, so apparent disappointment can be absorbed in a larger hope.

We feel her gratitude to God, her humility, in short, all her good qualities. We benefit more from that, probably, than if we are granted whatever we are requesting!

Our prayer will become increasingly a natural expression of an existing sense of trust.

We ‘pray’, not just ‘say prayers’. We know we are being heard. There is no shouting across the void; no fretfulness or impatience; no grumbling. Only trust.

This is how it should work. If we have not reached such an ideal, that itself becomes matter for prayer.

Our Lady will help us to pray, as she helps us with all our needs.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

4th Sunday after Easter 14 May 2017 Sermon

4th Sunday after Easter 14.5.17 Truth

Truth can be objective, as in 2+2=4, a fact which remains true whatever anyone says or thinks.

Or it can be subjective, as in ‘spinach pie is the best food anywhere’, which may be true for one person but not another.

In the spiritual world, at the level of faith and morality, the objective truth is more likely to apply.

For example, God exists, whether or not anyone says or thinks so. And so with other truths in our creeds and catechisms.

The Holy Spirit helps us to believe these truths, convinces us of them; confirms us in them. He also helps us to think in the right way, and to see how one truth fits in with another.

It can be hard to perceive the truth amid so much falsehood; and harder still to hold onto that truth when put under pressure, such as persecution or ridicule.

We should be so immersed in these beliefs that we know them and trust them, as well as we can count from one to ten, or say our own name.

Just as we learn certain things by repetition, so we repeat over and over the wonders God has worked in our midst. This the Church does in the psalms and the Liturgy.

Why do we say the same things all the time, re-tell the same stories? Because they are true, and we take them to heart, claim them for ourselves.

Then we can be like the apostles and martyrs, who could face anything for the sake of Christ, even torture and death.

We build up a store of faith, from which we can draw as needed. We do this in the quiet times, so we can deal with the turbulent times. Built on rock not sand (Mt 7,24-27).

We have enough material to draw upon – our history, rich in miracles and saints; so many great teachers and writers; it is all around if we are discerning as to what we take in. And there also the Holy Spirit will help us separate the wheat from the chaff.

Our belief should be strong enough that nothing will shake it; and we have enough left over to share it with others. Go out to the whole world… (Mt 28,19).

The Truth will assert itself, and continue to do so until either people repent, or there is the final separation of sheep and goats at the end of time (Mt 25, 31-46).

We are warned how difficult it might be. We have hit the turbulence. You may be the only one in your family or workplace who believes the truth, and you will be subject to ridicule, but this is part of the process.

Hold on anyway because it is the truth, and there is nowhere else to go (Jn 6, 68). And you may help someone else to convert.

We have to get those memory cells working. We repeat and repeat the wonders the Lord has done. He has set His people free; He has watched over them at every place and time.

Many have forgotten where they started or where they are going. They have lost their way, but the way is still there.

The casualty rate is very high, but many can still be retrieved. This is the Fatima message.

We keep the memories alive, and we will have the strength we need for any need.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

3rd Sunday after Easter 7 May 2017 Sermon

3rd Sunday after Easter 7.5.17 God hiding

Godhead here in hiding - the beginning of a hymn by St Thomas Aquinas - is an echo of today’s Gospel: in a little while you will not see Me, but then you will see Me again.

Does God hide from us? In a certain sense, yes.

He wants everyone to know Him, to live in union with Him. Yet He does not make Himself as obvious as He could, for example by working more miracles, spectacular undeniable miracles like at Fatima.

And He permits obstacles to arise for those who seek Him, such as persecutions or temptations.

He cannot reveal everything about Himself all at once. It would be like trying to put the ocean into buckets. He has to wait for us to reach certain levels of spiritual maturity before revealing the next stage. We don’t give beer to three year olds; we don’t let five year olds drive cars.

There is a certain maturity needed before people can do these things. The human adult has a long childhood, and this suggests that the same would apply in the spiritual world.

It takes time to mature. In fact, spiritual maturity is harder to achieve than general maturity.

Spiritual maturity means getting to know God at a deeper level, and coming to appreciate at least some of the richness there to be found.

In the initial stages of the spiritual life we might see things from a self-interested perspective: I expect God to provide what I need, and on my terms.

With maturity I learn to be more concerned for others, not just myself. And as far as the goods I seek, it is less of the material or physical blessings, and more of the spiritual. We come to see that to be kind, generous, self-sacrificing etc, is more desirable than to have lots of money or status.

This is what God wants of His children and disciples. So there is that note of incompleteness in today’s gospel - for a while you will not see Me and you will feel alone, and even abandoned; and you will struggle with all sorts of pressures, and you will be tempted to abandon belief - but if you can hold on through all this, I will be with you, only in ways not visible.

He is trying to increase - not decrease - our happiness by bringing us to be the full image, the full potential of what He had in mind when He created us.

It is a bit of a rough ride, and a lonely one, but worth it a million times over once we understand the plan. There will be joy like that of  a mother who gives birth (Jn 16,21).

If we are prepared to trust in God, in His wisdom and goodness, we can take life as He unfolds it to us, and give Him the best we can.

For what we get right we give thanks. For what we get wrong we ask His pardon.

All the while we are achieving a deepening maturity of spirit, so that we are able to recognise the interference and the temptations; all the bumps and turns in the road. We do not lose sight of our ultimate goal, as we cling to God, acknowledging His centrality, absolute power and goodness.

Once converted we still need a lot more conversion. There are many layers. And many chinks and cracks have to be fixed. A lot of restoring is required for these works of art. To restore one human being to the fulness of what God intended is a big operation.

How will we know when we are fully restored? When we desire only what God wants for us.

Then we will have found the ‘hidden’ God!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

2nd Sunday after Easter 30 Apr 2017 Sermon

2nd Sunday after Easter 30.4.17 Church and Christ

We have an image of Our Lord with the sheep around His shoulders, and that sheep is each of us, finding safety.

Where is He bringing us? It is not so much a place as a way of life. The sheepfold of the Good Shepherd is where the sheep behave like the Shepherd (cf today’s epistle).

The Catholic Church is often accused of being narrow and exclusive, but in fact it is extremely inclusive. Our invitation list is every name in the world. We want people to join us. We are as welcoming as could possibly be.

There are certain conditions of entry, but even they are only to enhance the happiness of those who do accept the invitation.

We do not have a ghetto mentality or a holier-than-thou mentality, but a let’s-seek-Christ mentality.

Wherever you are at this moment in your life, as near or as far from God as imaginable, He is calling you.

As to whether we are clean enough to come into His presence, He will make us clean. His presence sanctifies us as we draw close to Him. cf converts like St Matthew, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalen. When we encounter His goodness our attachment to sin will fall away like an old rag.

When He calls a sheep He calls a sheep; He does a complete job.

He intends more than just physical protection, He is seeking the complete transformation of each person in Himself.

So He calls each of us. We are called as sheep, and to share in the role of shepherd.

As sheep, we are to submit ourselves to the healing merciful power of God, and to let him do in us whatever He wants to do.

And then, ourselves to take on the shepherding view, as we seek to bring in others.

We offer to others the hope that they can be saved, and find the joy and peace that can be found only in Christ.

In all the false and misleading religions and philosophies of life, this one is True, and this is the way to come.

We do not say this with any sense of superiority to others.

We are aware of our own unworthiness.

We do not say, join us because we are such good companions, but because He is here!

We offer the truth, and the sacramental power to back it up.

In the Saviour we find Love and Truth working together, without friction.

We can have truth without being smug and superior. We can have love without obscuring the truth.

The truth as taught by the Church, is meant to shed light, not to make it harder. So many plead with the Church to ‘make it easier’ by discarding much of the teaching. This would only obscure the face of Christ, and the Church would be submerged with all the false ideas around

We can have it all at the same time – the theory and the practice, the light to light up our way, and the grace to motivate us to travel that way.

Christ wants this for everyone, and knowing us inside and out, He can help with precisely what is needed in each person’s case.

In the meantime He goes out looking, offering moments of grace if the person is sensitive to the moment. May everyone grasp that moment of grace, leading to conversion, when it comes looking for them. When He knocks, may He find us at home!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Low Sunday 23 Apr 2017 Sermon

Low Sunday 23.4.17 Forgiving

God is gracious and abundant in His dealings with us. He turns water into wine; He heals the sick, forgives the sinner, raises the dead – what is wrong He sets right; what is right He makes even better.

We can become so accustomed to God’s goodness that we take Him for granted. So if the sun rose this morning did we thank Him? We could not think of every detail to thank Him enough, but we need to keep in mind how dependent we are upon Him.

His generosity to us is especially strong in His treatment of the sinner.

Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven….

Forgiving is giving-with-extra-boost. It is when one party is prepared to go further than strict justice requires.

This is how God treats us - by creating us, which He did not have to do; then by saving us - which again He did not have to do.

And He gives us chance after chance to get things right.

God, in justice, could have wiped us out any time in the last few thousand years. Somehow we are still here, and talking about His mercy.

This is possible only because He is giving more than He has to.

He did not have to become Man, nor be crucified. He simply wanted to do it.

It should make us, at each step, more and more grateful that He has given us such special attention, and treated us so much better than we deserve.

It should cure us of complaining of the way God treat us; whenever we tell Him He is actually not looking after us very well.

We have various sufferings we don’t deserve, according to us anyway. We say we have been good, so He should reward us.

We make the mistake of dealing with God as though He is a business partner, someone of whom we can make demands.

We cannot demand anything from God, only appeal to His generosity.

We forget how infinitely small we are in relation to Him. Or how much power He has.

Mostly things just go on the same, but that is only because God’s will is underlying the whole creation.

Yet there are people who say, Who is this God? What is it to Him what we do?

This is ignorance combined with ingratitude, for which also we must ask forgiveness!

This feast is a chance for us to go back to the start. Like re-doing the scene for a film. We have needed to do the scene millions of times to get the human response right – if we have succeeded yet.

Gradually, we develop a sense of gratitude, getting to know God better, enabling us to have a clearer relationship with Him.

We will find He is on our side. All the while we have been trying to get around him, now we can go straight to Him.

What has God got to do with it?  Everything.

We need to change our tune. Instead of a chorus of complaint, we sing His goodness.

Those who are attached to the Divine Mercy devotion, are hopefully already saying the right things.

More of, Lord have mercy, and less of, Lord, why did you do this?

More of a discovery of the goodness of God, which has always been there, but sometimes has to be discerned as to its depths.

If we are prepared to work with God, and manage to be patient with Him, we will see it all in due time.

He is doing everything for our good. More than we realize, more than we deserve. All thanks to Him!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Easter Sunday 16 Apr 2017 Sermon

Easter Sunday 16.4.17 Good prevails

We need to know that the good prevails over the bad. It happens in the movies; it needs to happen in real life!

One of our troubles is that we are surrounded by bad news. This is accentuated by the media which is so efficient at picking up anything around the world.

First thing in the morning I hear the news and that is usually the worst bit of news that they can find. Any bombing, shooting, accident, disaster. So the last thing I want to hear is the first thing I do hear!

Then there is the personal news. Did you know that X died suddenly? Or that so-and-so has cancer? And someone else had an accident? etc.

And this is all the time. Bad news travels quicker than good.

It can wear us down, and can easily lead to a reduction or even loss of faith.

Can we still believe and hope through it all?

As with so many aspects of our faith, appearances are not all there is.

You could tell me ten bad things that have just happened, and I can still say: Christ is risen alleluia!

This piece of news is true, and remains true, and cannot be changed by any amount of time, or any amount of things going wrong.

There is a serene certainty in this, which consoles us, and even makes us joyful.

Easter Sunday is the greatest feast of them all. It is compulsory to be joyful today!

This feast puts everything in perspective. Though the bad news items might outnumber the good, the weight of the good news greatly exceeds the bad.

St Paul: I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us (Rm 8,18).

I don’t expect the 6 o’clock news to say every day that Christ is risen.

Yet, if they did say it, it would be as ‘new’ each time. It would qualify as ‘news’ - always true, relevant, and applicable to the way we feel, and the way the world is.

We hold the strongest card, which can beat all the other cards in the world. You can play your bombings and massacres, and I can play the Christ card, which beats all the others.

God has power to control His own creation. He allowed us to think that on Good Friday He was finished, defeated. It would look like He had failed. Whatever He was trying to do, it looks like He has not done it.

That He could so easily and comfortably emerge from the tomb in His own time and own way, shows He was always completely in control. I have power to lay [My life] down: and I have power to take it up again. (Jn 10,18).

Sunday morning is the time He chose, thus giving us every Sunday a feast of the Resurrection, and Easter Sunday the primary one of all.

We have to be consoled by this. We have the winning card up our sleeve the whole time.

We have access to the infinite power and goodness of God, which begin to work on us here and now, enabling us to have a first taste of the Resurrection, overcoming sin, and discovering holiness - a liberating experience.

We need to cultivate this experience, not just today, but every day, enabling us to feel better and to live better.

There are many things which could drag us down, but we rise above them, clinging to this best news of all.

We can reflect that if enough people would believe in the Resurrection there would be a lot less bad news! Everyone would be living in an orderly and productive manner. Till we see better days we can cope with an imperfect world, and a perfect God.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Palm Sunday 9 Apr 2017 Sermon

A shorter sermon than usual, because of the long Passion reading.
Happy Easter to all visitors to this site!

Palm Sunday 9.4.17 Holding firm

We do what the crowd does, for the first part but not the second.
That is, we cry Hosanna but not Crucify Him.

We welcome him the first time, and every time.

Most of the time it is not easy for us. Sometimes our emotions carry us, and we feel triumphant. But for much of the time it is somewhat uphill, a narrow winding way.

We can even be tempted to think that God has abandoned us, but it is never that. Still it requires application and perseverance on our part to hold firm

We have to dig in deep to keep the faith, not just showing jubilation when the feeling is on us, but in all weathers and circumstances.

When the soldiers come we do not desert Our Lord. We are proud to stand with Him.

We falter maybe, but always regroup, going back to base.

This is all by His grace. He calls us, establishes us, and keeps us faithful. We would not last long without Him, but we are with Him, and we will last.

It is just a matter of remembering which side we are on.

We have set our hopes on this Man, and will go with Him wherever He goes.

He leads us in dark ways, but we come out into the light.

May this coming week be rich in grace for us, as individuals, and the whole Church.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Passion Sunday 2 Apr 2017 Sermon

Passion Sunday 2.4.17 Sufferings of Our Lord

The ‘Passion’ of Our Lord means the suffering of Our Lord. We can spend the next two weeks especially, contemplating His sufferings.

He suffered and died for us. His death saved us; the sufferings added value to the death as a perfect sacrifice.

The more we love, the more we are prepared to suffer for the beloved.

In which case, Our Lord’s suffering shows a great deal of love, not just for one person but the whole human race, from start to finish.

He suffered in different ways. There was the physical suffering. We might think this is the worst; certainly it was bad enough.

But worse still was the spiritual suffering. He allowed Himself to feel what it was like to be a sinner; and not just one sinner, or one sin. He felt the guilt of all sin of all time, at the one time! Imagine the weight of that. It was this anguish that caused Him to sweat blood.

This is Passion on a grand scale.

Then there is emotional pain, being insulted and ridiculed. He allowed Himself to feel that as well; to be treated so badly by so many people.

Especially painful was the ingratitude. He was doing all this for people, yet they would still not welcome it.

And this would continue to the present day. There are still people who will refuse to be saved; who will reject Him.

Seeing His figure on the cross should move anyone to instant change of heart, but often does not. It can even be an occasion for further mockery and contempt.

All this He took on Himself. So we see His pain comes from all directions and many levels.

It is the clearest possible statement, on God's side, of His love for us, and His desire to save us.

It is up to us, who do not reject Him, to deepen our grasp on the meaning of Our Lord’s Passion and Death.

When we see a crucifix, or make the Stations, or pray the Sorrowful Mysteries, we pray to be moved to a fuller identification with Our Lord and all His intentions; that we can respond with suitable awe, gratitude, and a desire to imitate; making us more sorry for sin, and less likely to sin again.

And to an increasing extent willing ourselves to suffer… cf response Oh Sweet Jesus who for love of me didst bear Thy cross to Calvary, in Thy sweet mercy grant to me to suffer and to die with Thee.

We fill up what is lacking (Col 1,24) – what is lacking is the number of people who care.

This will reduce His pain, as He sees people awakening to what He is doing, and supporting Him in His suffering.

The two weeks of Passiontide are a time of special intensity, the climax of Lent – which then leads to a fuller understanding of Easter.

We could say that the Passion of Our Lord was designed to move the heart of God, as Judge. At the same time, it was meant to move the heart of Man, turned hard of heart in his sins over many years.

He succeeded in the first, but only partially the second point. God was impressed with the sacrifice, but Man was not (speaking generally).

What more could it take than God Himself to come down here, and live as one of us, then be put to death for other people’s sins?!

They will look on the one whom they have pierced, and weep for him as for an only son (Zech 12,10; Jn 19,37).

It is just a matter of when people wake up to the immensity of this event – the Passion of Our Lord. God is ready; we are still thinking about it!