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 treats 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!