Thursday, 16 March 2017

2nd Sunday of Lent 12 Mar 2017 Sermon

2nd Sunday of Lent 12.3.17 Believing is Seeing

Why did the apostles run away, when the mob came to arrest Our Lord?

The apostles did something we are frequently tempted to do – to doubt our faith.

We think we believe something, but when put to the test we find our belief is only partial.

If the apostles had really trusted in Our Lord by this time, they would have stood there with Him, confident that He would look after their interests, as He always had done.

Countless times He had shown His power. Why should this time be any different?

We have the advantage over the apostles that we know how the story continued; that He had not lost His power; that He let Himself be captured and crucified, but all the while had power to break free; and even when killed, had the power to come back to life any time He chose.

So why do we still doubt?

For one thing, we are too heavily influenced by our physical nature. We put so much weight on what our senses tell us, and so little weight on what our spiritual nature can tell us.

People will say: Seeing is Believing. They demand proof – of God's existence; of promised blessings, such as eternal life; of any claimed miracles.

Many things cannot be proved in the sense that we can go to a laboratory and make precise measurements.

That does not necessarily make them untrue, however.

Reality goes much deeper than physical reality. People who demand physical proof are presuming that the material or physical is all there is, but there is no way to prove that claim!

We know there is a lot more than can be seen, heard, or touched. For example, love, or peace or courage- not just religious matters - are entirely beyond physical measurement; yet we know they are real.

For another thing, we let our feelings dominate our reason. The apostles felt afraid, so they ran away. Disciples of Christ have been running away ever since.

If we feel good, then our faith is high; if we feel bad, our faith is low. This is to be ruled by our emotions. If we are worn down by too many disappointments, we can lose hope, cease praying, and eventually even believing.

We need to have a faith which is so strong that we can believe, in all weathers, all circumstances, no matter how unfavourable they look or feel.

Our faith is in God, not in appearances or circumstances.

Which brings us to today’s Gospel: Why did Our Lord give His apostles a glimpse of His glory? It was to fortify them against what they would soon experience, in seeing His degradation.

They were to be strong enough to survive the crucifixion, and go beyond.

And, knowing the event would be recorded for later disciples, it forms a reference point from which we can all benefit.

You may be face down in the dirt; despised by all; no money, no friends etc – yet the glory of God has not diminished, and it is all around us. So we can trust in that same God who has always rescued His people from trouble.

Believing is Seeing. When we believe it enough we will behave in such ways as to enable miracles to happen, and the good to prevail.

We do not seek the signs or consolations for themselves, but understand they will be more frequent, as side effects. What we really want is the certainty of a faith that will never waver.

We will not run away.

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