Monday, August 31, 2015

prayer diary Monday 31 August 2015

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. 
Luke 4. 16

Christ did not excuse himself from worshipping with his fellow men on the day appointed by God to do so. By what authority then do you absent yourself from God's house on the Lord's Day?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

clean - inside and out

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

I always think today's Gospel reading, where Jesus does not seem too fussed about washing one's hands, must bring a smile to the face of children. I know that as a father, when we sit down to a meal as a family, I am constantly having to remind my boys about the need to wash their hands before eating. Perhaps girls are different. And I imagine children gleefully telling their parents that they were paying attention that morning when the Gospel was read and that Jesus didn't think hand hygiene was all that important – in fact, he seems to frown on it – so that it is OK for them to tuck into their Sunday lunch with their own little paws as dirty as they like – it is the Christian thing to do!

Alas, for these mucky children – Jesus is not talking about hygiene here at all. In fact the knowledge that cleanliness and good-health are connected is quite a modern thing. As late as the mid-19th century, for example, doctors were quite happy to go from patient to patient without cleaning their hands in between, causing quite a number of deaths as a result, because at that time no body knew about bacteria. Of course once they knew hygiene in hospitals became quite rigorous; and today even as a visitor you are expected to disinfect your hands before entering one.

No, the washing that is being talked about in our Gospel is ritual washing – notice that the Scribes and Pharisees do not accuse the disciples of eating with dirty hands but with defiled hands; that is ritually unclean or impure. It would have involved pouring water over ones hands and then rubbing them together – no soap involved and certainly no disinfectant or anti-bacterial liquids like we have today. It was a religious custom of the day designed to try and bring a religious significance to the meal and had nothing at all to do with hygiene.

Jesus responds to their complaints by repeating the words of the prophet Isaiah 'This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.' What our Lord is talking about is what is the point of following all the customs and rituals and seeming to be 'pure' on the outside when inside your heart is far from pure. 

To continue with the theme of hygiene: you could well imagine a doctor telling you that there is little point in engaging in a huge amount of personal hygiene – showering carefully, brushing and flossing your teeth after every meal, and thoroughly washing your hands before eating – if everything you put into your mouth is total rubbish – loads of sugary and deep-fat fried food, free from all taint of fruit and vegetables or anything healthy. A diet like that would do you more damage than the occasional set of dirty fingers; you might be clean on the outside, but inside you'd be full of all the rubbish that the fast-food industry can provide and the damage that it does.

And it is like that with religion too. There's not much point in following all the outside trappings of religion – in Jesus' day all the different kinds of ritual washings we read about in the Gospel; in our own time it might be going to Church every Sunday and Holy-day, fasting during Lent, saying our prayers morning and evening, and reading the Bible regularly – if our hearts are full of vile and sinful thoughts. 

Because the sins we commit begin first in our thoughts – before we steal, we think about wanting the object we steal; before we commit an act of violence, we are first angry with the other person in our hearts; before we say horrible things about another person, whether they are true or not, we think about saying them first; and anything else wrong that we do, we first imagine doing them. And even if after we have thought about these things in our hearts we do not later do them, that does not mean we have not done wrong. For Jesus teaches us elsewhere that it is as wrong to have such sinful thoughts in our hearts as it is to carry them out.

So what Jesus is teaching us here is that his followers are to have absolute purity of heart. Now that is not to say that we are therefore to neglect the practise of our religious duties; that would be like your doctor telling you that you didn't need to wash yourself or brush your teeth as long as you ate healthy food. No, the obligation to practise our faith remains the same. 

But with purity of heart, that practise becomes different. Will not the heart that no longer seethes with evil thoughts and desires partake more worthily and joyfully in the Body and Blood of of our Blessed Saviour in the Holy Eucharist? Will it not give more fervent and sincere worship to the God who created and sustains us? Will it not be more eager to pray and more alert and focused as it does so, freed from the distractions and temptations of unholy thoughts? And will it not be filled with desire to hear and read his Holy Word as revealed to us in Sacred Scriptures, more open to the promptings of his Holy Spirit, more aware of how it shows his great love for us, and the purpose for which we were created, to be be with God in heaven for all eternity?

So, I am sorry to disappoint any of our young people here today who thought our Gospel today might serve as an excuse when they appear at the dinner table with hands looking like they had spent an hour pulling up turnips followed by another mucking out cow stalls followed by a third taking apart the engine of a tractor. But I hope they have learned something far more important – the Christian needs to be clean, in the sense of being pure, on the inside as well as the outside. And it something that I pray that everyone else here today has learned as well. Amen.

Examin Sunday 30 August 2015

Keep Holy the Sabbath Day

Christians from the earliest days have seen in this a commandment from God to come together to worship him on Sundays, the day that his Son rose from the dead. Being a divine law it is not to be treated lightly. Therefore no one should, without good and unavoidable cause, be absent from the Lord's House on that day.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

prayer diary Saturday 29 August 2015

'As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 
Matthew 25. 30

There are many who like to think that God does not care how we live. Yet Christ himself warned us that at the end we will all face judgement – a judgement that will not be pleasant for all.

Friday, August 28, 2015

prayer diary Friday 28 August 2015 ( day of discipline and self-denial)

Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.”But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” 
Matthew 25. 11,12

It is easy to become complacent and think 'I am part of the Church – what more need I do?' The lamp of their faith burns low and then goes out unnoticed by them until it is too late. Our Lord warns against such carelessness and we must heed his warning.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

prayer diary Thursday 27 August 2015

'Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.' 
Matthew 24. 44

We know not when our Lord may call us to stand before him. It is for good reason, then, that great teachers, from the Fathers of the early Church to the great spiritual fathers of our own time, remind us to keep the thought of death always before us; for in that thought may lie the salvation of our soul.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

prayer diary Wednesday 26 August 2015

'You are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.' 
Matthew 23.27

Did Christ not say lustful thoughts were the same as adultery, and anger equivalent to murder? A façade of goodness may mask a life that contains much that is evil. Strive, then, to master the passions within for the sake of your soul.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

prayer diary Tuesday 25 August 2015

'You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.' 
Matthew 23.25

Our internal life is of great importance to our spiritual well-being. Purity of life begins with purity of heart.

Monday, August 24, 2015

prayer diary Monday 24 August 2015 (St Bartholomew)

'The greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.' 
Luke 22.26

Our Lord spoke these words to his Apostles, men whom he only moments later told would in his kingdom sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. If they were commanded to live lives of humble service, must not do so also?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

truth matters

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

In our Gospel reading today, our Lord might seem to be somewhat inflexible, a man not open to the idea of compromise. He has told his listeners that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they are to have life in them. Some present complain that this is a hard teaching. Does Jesus try to soften it for them? He does not. Instead, he tells them his words are spirit and life. Many begin to leave. Does Jesus then call them back and try to soften his teaching?

No, he doesn't. Instead he turns to the 12 Apostles and asks them if any of them would like to leave as well. Accept what I say or go, is his clear message. And he will not change his teaching in order to keep those who hear him happy. The truth is the truth and it can not be changed just because hearing it makes some, or many, or even most unhappy to hear it. There is good reason for this. Not telling people the hard unvarnished truth, and instead only saying to them what they want to hear, can have disastrous consequences.

Imagine, for example, a doctor who didn't like to give his patients bad news. First into his office is a woman in her early forties. Doctor she says, I just got married. My husband and I hope to have children, but it's a very busy time at work for me, and we have a lot of bills after the wedding. Do you think it would be ok to wait a few years. No worries, says the doctor. Women are starting families later these days; and I believe the longer you wait, the more likely you are to conceive. So delay all you want. And the woman leaves the office delighted. 

Next in comes an older man, wheezing and coughing. He has a sixty cigarette a day habit and the first thing he says to the doctor is that he knows he needs to quit but he has tried before and found it very hard. Well, have I got good news for you, says the doctor. It turns out the tobacco companies have been right all along; there is no proof that cigarettes causes lung-cancer, or heart disease, or emphysema, or anything else. In fact, because they help you relax and deal with stress, they're really quite good for you. Actually, you might want to think about smoking a few more. And still coughing and wheezing, but smiling now, the man leaves.

Finally, a man comes in looking for his test results. He's afraid; he's sure he has cancer. In fact, he does have cancer. But the doctor just gives him a big smile and says not to worry, he's grand – the tests came back all clear. Oh, thank you says the man – I feel so relieved. And he leaves the office a happy man. And the doctor nods and smiles to himself thinking that he has done good work that day as he has made so many people happy.

I do not think that any of us would like to be the patient of such a doctor, even if he did manage to keep us happy for a brief while by telling us what we want to hear. And this is why Jesus insists on telling his followers the truth, even when they do not wish to hear it. For he is the physician of souls, the one who has come to make sinners well from the sin that afflicts them. And if the truth he tells causes some to run from him, better that they leave; for there is no salvation in staying to believe in a lie – quite the opposite, for did not our Lord tell us that lies are of Satan, who is the father of lies? Telling people what they want to hear rather than the truth, even if they find it painful, is of the devil then, not of God – and how could Christ do the work of the one whose power he had come to set man free from?

No, with Christ it is the truth, always … and so it must be with us. We must not be afraid to hear the hard truths, and live out the hard teachings. And we must not be afraid to share them with others. Jesus was not afraid to do so, even though it cost him many followers; we must do likewise, even if it will cost us friends.

For consider St Peter's words when Jesus asked the apostles if they, like those who left because the truth was too much for them, wished also to go – he replied 'Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.' What kind of friends would we be to them if we refused to share those words of truth with them, the truth that can save their souls? Indeed, is not refusing to share the truth with others the same as leading them astray, as causing them to stumble? And what was it our Lord said of those who lead others astray? It was that it were better that a millstone be tied around their neck and they be cast into the sea. So by sharing God's truth with others not only may you save the souls of those others – you may in fact save your own.

I pray that God will grant his grace to all present today to hear his truth, live it out in their lives, and share that truth with others always. Amen

Examin Sunday 23 August 2015

'Is it any wonder that there can be no peace in a world where everything possible is done to guarantee that the youth of every generation will grow up absolutely without moral and religious discipline, and without the shadow of an interior life, or of that spirituality and charity and faith which alone can guarantee the treaties and agreements made by governments?'
Thomas Merton, 'The Seven Story Mountain.'

Merton's words underline the importance of parents taking seriously their duty to pass on the faith to their children. And indeed the importance of parents being well educated in the faith themselves. For how can they pass on what they do not know​

Saturday, August 22, 2015

prayer diary Saturday 22 August 2015

'The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.' 
Matthew 23. 11,12

The Christian life is one of humility and service. Consider then how you live.  Does your life reflect Christ's words?

Friday, August 21, 2015

prayer diary Friday 21 August 2015 ( day of discipline and self-denial)

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 
Matthew 22.34,35

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were enemies, yet they each worked against Christ. Do not be surprised then when the differing powers of this world work to persecute his Church and those who love him.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

prayer diary Thursday 20 August 2015

But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding garment, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” 
Matthew 22.11,12

The wedding garment here signifies a love of God and his laws. Membership of the Church on its own means nothing if you do actively respond to the grace God offers us all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

prayer diary Wednesday 19 August 2015

They grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” 
Matthew 20.11,12

Christ has but one reward for those who love him: eternal life. And it is never too late to abandon the ways of sin and death

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

prayer diary Tuesday 18 August 2015

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.' 
Matthew 19.23

Wealth comes at a price. It is an idol whose seductions are difficult to resist. Therefore do not seek the riches of this world; and if you have them, pray all the harder that you may resist their temptations and be saved.

Monday, August 17, 2015

prayer diary Monday 17 August 2015

When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 
Matthew 19.22

Wealth is not in itself evil. But attachment to it so great that it displaces God in your life is. Do not allow the passing things of this life come between you and your eternal destiny.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

food for the journey of life

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

If a man were to tell his friends that he planned to trek on foot across a vast and trackless desert but that he planned to take no supplies with him like food and water; that he was taking no equipment to help him like matches to start a fire at night, a sleeping bag, or a first-aid kit; nor anything to hunt with like a bow or a gun so that he might at least have some chance of living off the land; nor a compass or some other navigational aid to help him find his way; and that he, an ordinary sort of fellow, who lived the regular and fairly sedentary kind of modern life, had not undertaken any kind of training to prepare him for the difficult journey he was about to undertake; and that he had no plans to wear sturdy and well-broken in hiking boots or indeed any other kind of special clothing suitable for the harsh and unforgiving environment that he was about to enter … if a man were to tell his friends this, I do not think that we could accuse them over being overly severe with him if they were to tell that man his plans were far from wise … and that if he should go through with them, without making many major adjustments to his plans, then if they were to suggest to him that he was a fool as he set off they would not be being judgemental, they would merely be speaking the plain and unvarnished truth. What the man intends will get him killed; and if he thinks otherwise then he is not safe to be let out.

No one here would, I imagine, ever behave in such a fashion. Most people I know check there is enough petrol in the tank before even making a short trip; for a medium length trip they will probably take a bottle of water and a snack with them in the car; and for a longer expedition they will either bring a substantial picnic or ensure they have enough money with them to buy some sort of a meal along the way.

We are all, I think, quite sensible when it comes to the mundane things of life. But such worldly wisdom is not what St Paul is speaking of when he tells us we must live wisely. And we know this because he tells us what it means not to be foolish: it is to understand what the will of the Lord is. Wise living consists of living the way God wants us to, according to his purpose and plan.

This, of course, makes perfect sense if one gives the matter even a moment of thought. The things of this life are not unimportant; after all we need them to live and that is why God has provided us with them. But they are temporary, whereas the things of the next life are eternal. And this life is something we are intended to pass through, while the life that is beyond this life is something that once we attain it we are intended to remain in for all eternity. So it is only natural that true wisdom would consist in living our lives in such a way that would help us achieve our eternal destiny, rather than concerning ourselves obsessively with the things of this life.

Is this an easy task? By no means. This is why St Paul also says 'the days are evil.' The world, the flesh, and the devil – in other words those around us that would lead us into sin, our own fallen nature, and the supernatural forces aligned against us – all conspire to make it so. But God has not abandoned us to make our own way, to succeed or fail based on our own abilities … for if that were the case we would all surely fail.

The many, many ways that our Father in heaven comes to our aid are too numerous to mention in a short sermon. But one major way in which he does so is prophetically spoken of in our Old Testament reading from Proverbs and spoken of in real and concreted terms in our Gospel reading – the Blessed Sacrament. In Proverbs, Wisdom calls: Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.And in our Gospel, our blessed Saviour says ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.' In the Blessed Sacrament Christ feeds us with his own Body and Blood to strengthen what was begun in us at our Baptisms, and nourish us with food for our journey through this life, filling us with his supernatural grace so that we might endure unto eternal life. And just as the man who would set off into the desert unprepared and unequipped would be foolish to do so, would we not equally be foolish if we did not strengthen ourselves for our own journeys with the Bread of Life that was given to us by the Son of God himself?

And so the prayer that I end with this morning is that all God's children will partake of that heavenly food frequently and worthily, so that they may be granted God's grace to live not as unwise people but as wise, understanding the will of the Lord in this life that they may be with him forever in the next. Amen

Examin Sunday 16 August 2015

Honour your father and your mother

We are taught by this commandment not only to obey the lawful commands of those appointed over us as children, but also of the duty adult children have to care for their parents in their old age. This duty extends to a responsibility of ensuring that all the elderly are looked after in a manner that is consistent with the dignity that is due to them as human beings created in the image and likeness of God.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Prayer diary Saturday 15 August 2015

'You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all you mind. This is the greatest and first command.' 
Matthew 22.37,38

Christ proclaimed this the greatest commandment because it is from this that all the others flow. If you do not love God completely then you can not do his will in other areas.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Prayer diary Friday 14 August 2015 ( day of discipline and self-denial)

'The greatest among you must become the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.' 
Luke 22.26

Followers of Christ seek no glory for themselves, but desire only to serve others. And the greatest assistance one can render to another is leading them to the path whereby their soul may be saved. In what way do you do others this service? Is the example of your life such that it may lead others to eternal life?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Prayer diary Thursday 13 August 2015

'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets and invite everyone you meet to the wedding banquet.' 
Matthew 22.8,9

The parable of the wedding feast is a stark warning to us all. Many who complacently believe their place in heaven is assured have shown themselves not worthy by virtue of how they chose to live. What of you – are you living a life that shows you to be worthy of the invitation you have received?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Prayer diary Wednesday 12 August 2015

When those he hired last came, he gave them the usual daily wage; and when the first came, they thought they would receive more.' 
Matthew 20.9

It is never too late to change your ways and enter into the vineyard of the Lord. The reward he offers is the same to all, whenever they come: eternal life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Prayer diary Tuesday 11 August 2015

'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.' 
Matthew 19.24

Reflection Wealth is not evil in itself; but it is seductive. The riches of this world can lure you into having greater regard for it than for having treasure in heaven.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Prayer diary Monday 10 August 2015

'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions, give the money to the poor, & you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' 
Matthew 19.21

The problem of the rich young man is not his wealth, but his attachment to his possessions. It is something that he can not give up, not even for the sake of attaining the kingdom of heaven. What is there in your life that you can not give up, even though holding on to it may cost you eternal life?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

David and Absalom

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’

Everyone, I imagine, is familiar with the story of David and Goliath, and the story of David and Bathsheba; less familiar perhaps is that of the story of  David and Absalom, the end of which we have today for our Old Testament reading. The sorry tale begins when Amnon, David's eldest son and the heir-apparent, develops on un-wholesome obsession with his beautiful half-sister Tamar. He tricks the young woman into being alone with him and assaults her. The king is furious, but Amnon is not punished. Perhaps it is because he is the heir; perhaps because after his own actions with Bathsheba David feels in no position to judge another; perhaps because there are no witnesses to the deed as would be required for guilt to be proven under Jewish law.

Her full-sibling Absalom is angry; and two years later he has his brother assassinated. Is it truly to avenge his sister; or is this a pretext for clearing the way to the throne for himself? We can not be sure, but the fact that he waited so long and employed others to do the deed for him is certainly suggestive.

Having murdered the first-born, Absalom must flee; but not too far and for not too long. Representations are made on his behalf and he is allowed back to Jerusalem. He is refused access to the royal court at first, but after threats and blackmail persuades an influential courtier to speak to the king on his behalf and he is allowed back into the king's presence. None of this is too difficult to arrange, because David is genuinely fond of Absalom, whom it seems is a handsome and charming young man – perhaps he reminds his father of himself as a youth?

But, alas, the love the king has for his son is not returned. As soon as he is back, Absalsom begins to conspire against him and soon is ready to launch a rebellion against his father and seize the throne. David is warned of the plot and barely escapes from Jerusalem in time with those who remain loyal to him. Absalom enters the city in triumph and then deliberately commits a particularly heinous crime designed to show his utter hatred for his father and his determination that there be no possibility of their making peace of any kind: he enters the royal harem and violates the concubines David has left behind to look after the palace.

But Absalom has badly underestimated the cunning and skill of the old warrior who is his father. David musters an army strong enough to defeat that under his son's command. But even as he sends it into battle, he orders that his son be spared. And when he learns that Absalom has been killed, his grief is worse than had the day ended in defeat for his forces rather than a great victory.

Is it any wonder that in the great love that David has for his wayward son, and his willingness to forgive him no matter what evil that he does, no matter how wicked he has been, that the Church Fathers have seen a parallel of God's love for us? No matter how wicked humanity has been, no matter what sins have been committed, no matter what lengths we go to to reject him, God continues to love us, continues to reach out to us, continues of offer forgiveness. God's love reached its fullness in the sending of his Son into the world to suffer and die for our sins that we might be saved. And like David, how great his sorrow when his love is rejected, how great his grief. But just like Absalom could not be forced to return as a loving son to the father who loved him, neither does God force us to love him and accept the love he offers us. He has given us free will and so it is for us to freely love him and return and freely accept the eternity he offers us in heaven.

I pray that all here will learn from the story of Absalom; learn that there is ultimately no point in rebellion against the Father who loves us, because nothing we can do can defeat him; and even though he loves us always and will forgive us anything, we must return to him before it is too late, or else our fate will to our own despair and the Father's grief. Amen

Examin Sunday 9 August 2015

Honour your father and your mother

The first and most obvious meaning of this commandment is of the duty of young children to obey their parents in all that is lawful. This includes the child being obedient to all in authority over them. But this commandment also speaks to parents. They have a duty to not only to care for children's material needs, but to pass on the faith by word and example of life. Just as the one will often require sacrifices, so too will the other.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

prayer diary Saturday 8 August 2015

'Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as these the kingdom of heaven belongs.' 
Matthew 19. 14

Christ again reminds us of the childlike simplicity required of all who would follow him. For just as a child implicitly trusts his parents, so too must we trust Christ and all that he taught us and all that he did for us.

Friday, August 7, 2015

prayer diary Friday 7 August 2015 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'What God has joined together, let no man separate.' 
Matthew 19. 6

Christian marriage is a state that can only be dissolved by death; therefore it behoves those who would enter into it to not do so lightly. By doing so they may not only risk their happiness in this life but also in the next.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

prayer diary Thursday 6 Aug 2015

Peter said ' Lord, if another member of the Church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him 'Not seven times but, I tell you, but seventy times seven.' 
Matthew 18. 21,22

Forgiving others is not simply a 'nice thing' to do; it is a fundamental of the Christian life. Forgiveness is not an emotion; it is an act of the will. And if you are obedient to the will of Christ it is something that you will do always.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

prayer diary Wednesday 5 Aug 2015

'Truly I tell you whatever you bind on earth will be bound on heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.' 
Matthew 18. 18

Christ gave awesome authority to his Church. But why should we be amazed? It is his body on earth. Be careful, therefore, to listen to what the Church has always taught and still teaches.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

prayer diary Tuesday 4 Aug 2015

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 
Matthew 18. 4,5

Humility is one of the defining traits of the Christian. Pride of any sort risks preventing us from entering the Kingdom – especially the pride that sets our will above the will of God.

Monday, August 3, 2015

prayer diary Monday 3 Aug 2015

Jesus said to them: the Son of Man will be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised. 
Matthew 17. 22,23

Christ came to this world knowing that he would suffer and die. He thought each and every one of us was important enough to do that for. Do you live your life in a way that shows you appreciate what he did for you?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

all the proof in the world

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

There is a story told of a heavy-weight boxer who was involved in a minor traffic accident. It was one of those insignificant fender-benders that are an inevitable consequence of placing a large number of people with various levels of skill and ability in close proximity while trying to control several tons of metal and assorted other materials moving at high speed. The boxer was unperturbed by the incident and got out of his vehicle to deal with something he thought trivial was would be sorted out in a matter of moments.

The other driver, a short, middle-aged man, took a more serious view of the affair. He was furious and challenged the boxer to put his fists up. Now, as I said, he was a heavy-weight boxer, standing well over six feet tall and weighing in at considerably more than 200-pounds. He was also, as it happens, quite famous. In fact, he had been on television screens all over the world only a few weeks earlier, fighting for the world heavy-weight championship. He hadn't won, but he had managed to send the champion crashing to the canvas at one point. The champion had gotten up clearly shaken and many commentators agreed that had the bell not rung at the moment the fight could well have been his. But the bell had rung, the champion had been allowed time to recover, and so the moment and the fight was lost.

So the boxer was not a man to be lightly challenged to a fight by anyone, much less the small man standing before him.
'Calm down,' the boxer said to him. 'I'm not going to fight you. Don't you know who I am?'
'I know who you are,' said the man fiercely. 'And I'm not afraid of you.'
'Oh come on!' said the boxer. 'If you know who I am, then you know I knocked down the world champion only a few weeks ago. You'd be crazy to try and fight me.'
'That was then and this is now,' said the man. 'let's see how tough you are today!'
Luckily, police intervened and the man was spared having to experience the only proof he would accept that he was living in a fantasy if he thought he was picking a fight he could win – a punch on the nose!

I was reminded of that story while thinking about our Gospel reading today. Jesus has just performed the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. Eager for more free bread, many go looking for him. When they find him Jesus knows perfectly well what they are about and tells them not be so focussed on their bellies, but to work instead on the food that endures for eternal life and that they must believe in him, the Son of Man, the one who was sent by God.

And then they ask him what is, in the circumstances, an extraordinary question. They say : What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?' Jesus has already at this point in John's Gospel turned water into wine, healed many sick people, shown that he can to all intents in purposes read people's minds, for example by the way he tells the Samaritan women at the well everything about herself the moment he meets her, and has just, as already noted, fed thousands with a few scraps of bread – this last miracle being the very reason that these men are standing there in the first place. And still they ask him for a sign, to do something to prove to them that he is who he says he is and that they should believe in him? How much more proof do they need? They have seen the miracles, they have heard the teaching and still they ask for more?

And yet, of course, we know that there are those whom no evidence will convince – all the witness of Scripture means nothing to them, not even Christ's rising from the dead. Just as nothing would convince that road-rage fuelled motorist that day that he couldn't possibly take on that boxer, that he would have refused to believe it was impossible until he was lying on his back with his nose bleeding, so there are those who will refuse to believe in Jesus until the day he comes again to judge the living and the dead … and that day will be, as we all know, too late.

So I end this morning with the prayer that those whose souls are in danger because of unbelief will have their hearts opened; that instead of demanding more and more evidence that God is real, he loves them, and that he sent his only Son into the world to die for them that they should be saved, they will instead open their eyes to the evidence they have before them, the truth that is contained in the Gospels, so that they may hear the Good news and be saved. Amen

Examin Sunday 2 Aug 2015

Remember the Lord's Day and keep it holy

Other than the obligation to attend Divine Services, the main way of keeping the Lord's Day holy is to avoid all unnecessary work. The Divine command to rest on this day goes back to Genesis where we have the example of our Creator resting on the seventh day. God himself ordained that this day should be set aside for the refreshment of our bodies and the benefit of our souls. Only the dictates of absolute necessity frees you of the obligation not only to behave thus yourself, but to allow those in your employ or otherwise under your control the opportunity to do so also.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

prayer diary Saturday 1 Aug 2015

For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain 'move from here to there' and it will move. 
Matthew 17. 20

Faith knows that all things are possible ... and is wise enough to ask for only those things that are in accordance with God's will.