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

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