Saturday, September 23, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 23 September 2017

'The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.' 
Luke 8.13

Reflection
We face many things that test our faith. When trials occur do you stand fast? Do you fall away and think you will ask for forgiveness later? Or do you fall away without even realising that you have done so?

Friday, September 22, 2017

prayer diary Friday 22 September 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

Soon afterwards Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. 
Luke 8.1

Reflection
Our Lord did not just proclaim the good news, he brought it with him wherever he went. We too must live our lives in such a way as to bring his good news into the lives of those we meet.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 21 September 2017 (St Matthew)

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. 
Matthew 9.9

Reflection
Our Lord called St Matthew to be an apostle and he followed him. He calls each of us also, each to our own role within the Church. And we must respond as St Matthew did, by rising up and following Christ – whatever the cost.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 20 September 2017

'They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;we wailed, and you did not weep.”' 
Luke 7.32

Reflection
There are some who will criticise you no matter what you do; truly it is a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. Ignore them. There is only one whom you must hear and obey for he has the words of eternal life.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 19 September 2017

Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ 
Luke 7.14

Reflection
Each day our Lord commands us to rise up, to hear and obey his word, so that we may enter into eternal life. How do you respond to his command?

Monday, September 18, 2017

prayer diary Monday 18 September 2017

‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.' 
Luke 7.7

Reflection
Several times in the Gospels we read of Jesus' praise for the great faith displayed by some. In what manner do you think would he regard the faith that you have in him?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Forgiveness and the Cross

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

The topic of our Gospel reading today is that of God's forgiveness; and the parable of the unmerciful servant demonstrates that his mercy toward us is essentially unlimited. There is no sin that we may commit that God cannot forgive, provided that we are repentant. However, it also shows, in order to attain mercy, we must ourselves be merciful; in order to be forgiven, we must also forgive. And if that seems hard, we must remember, as the parable demonstrates, that even though the offences that others commit against us may seem great, they are as nothing compared to the offences we commit against God. For any wrong done to us, no matter how great we may judge it to be, is simply an offence against a mortal creature; but all offences against God, no matter how trivial they may seem, if done against the Almighty creator of the universe.

It for that reason that Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sins. And it is because of that infinitely great sacrifice – God becoming man so that he might suffer and die for our sins – that we must keep the Cross at the centre of our lives. That Cross means the possibility of Salvation for all; and Salvation means that it is possible for us to one day be where we were created to be – with God, in heaven, for all eternity.

Therefore, wonderful things can happen for us if only we will keep the Cross at the centre of our lives. Indeed, let me tell you a little story concerning something rather wonderful that happened recently, in this very Church, when one person understood the importance of keeping the Cross at the centre of things.

One Sunday, not many weeks ago, I came into St Mary's to conduct Divine Services as usual. As I faced the altar, I was first startled and then entranced by an unusual sight. Upon the White Cloth on the surface of the Holy Table there shone an image of the Cross in golden light. It took me only a moment to realise that it was caused by light reflecting off the Cross in the Sanctuary onto the Altar Cloth. But why was it happening? It had never happened before that I had seen. Now, it was a sunny morning; and of course as we all know, the angle of the sun changes throughout the year and what with sometimes days being wet or cloudy, perhaps it was that conditions had never been just right for me to notice this happening before? But as the service progressed, I glanced back to the altar several times; and though the angle of the sun changed, the phenomenon continued and the bright, golden cross continued to shine unmoving upon the white linen of the Holy Table. This made it clear that it was the light of the sanctuary lights themselves being reflected from the cross down onto the altar; which made it all the more puzzling, as in that case why had it never happened before?

The only thing I could think of at that point was that someone must have moved the cross or adjusted its position so that for the very first time it was catching the light in this way and reflecting its image upon the altar. And so it proved to be. After the service, as I was telling the few people who had remained behind about what I had noticed and inviting them to come and see it for themselves, Sylvia Ward told me that when she had been cleaning and doing the flowers she had noticed that the flowers were obscuring the cross to some extent; and thinking that it was wrong that the cross should be hidden in any way, she had moved it a little so that it would remain in plain view and retain its position of prominence within the church. She had kept the Cross at the centre of things. And something wonderful had been the result.


Now, of course, this is only a small thing – although I must confess that it caused me great excitement and wonder at the time, and still warms my heart whenever I see it – but it does, I think, serve as a sort of a parable. We as Christians are called to keep the Cross at the centre of our lives. When it was done in this case, something rather beautiful was the result – a glowing cross was cast upon the Altar in God's Church. And that I think can serve to remind us of the even more beautiful and wonderful things that can result when we keep the cross at the centre of our lives always … if we lead our lives always thinking of how Christ died for us … if we lovingly follow his teachings, carrying our own crosses, forgiving others as we ourselves wish God to forgive us when we fail to live up to our calling to be as Christ-like as possible … realising that even as we carry our cross, the cross of Christ carries us … carries us daily ever nearer to our heavenly home and eternal life … to the place where all mourning ceases, all sadness is over, where all is joy and love, and all our sins forgiven … a forgiveness that we have through the Cross of our Lord … the Cross that I pray that all here will embrace, now and always, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 16 September 2017

'Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you?' 
Luke 6.46

Reflection 
There is no salvation without sacrifice. Christ died that we might be saved; and we must forego all that does not conform to his teaching if we hope to partake of the salvation that he offers.

Friday, September 15, 2017

prayer diary Friday 15 September 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

He also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?' 
Luke 6. 39

Reflection 
Who is it from that you seek to learn how to live – those blind guides who speak with the approval of the world? Seek the counsel rather of He who speaks with the authority of the Divine, God's Son, who speaks to us through Sacred Scripture and through the Church which He founded.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 14 September 2017

'But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.'Luke 6.27

Reflection 
In the context of this passage, our Lord spoke of those who hate you because of your faith in Him. And what greater love could you show to such as those than to do all that you can to bring them also to the path that leads to Salvation?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 13 September 2017

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 
Luke 6. 22

Reflection 
Great are the rewards in heaven for those who risk the hatred of the world for the sake of the Lord. Can you say that you have earned the Lord's blessing in this way?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 12 September 2017

He spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles. 
Luke 6. 12, 13

Reflection 
Our Lord did nothing without first engaging in prayer. We must also seek God's guidance and strength before we act.

Monday, September 11, 2017

prayer diary Monday 11 September 2017

The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 
Luke 6.7

Reflection 
The wicked seek for reasons even in the good deeds of the most holy to accuse them of evil. But the evil is in their own hearts and will one day be their undoing. Pray they will repent before that day comes.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

true love means speaking the truth

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

The topic of our Gospel reading today concerns the correction of wrongdoing in others. It is an uncomfortable one, particular in this modern age of 'live and let live.' And it seems to stand in contradiction of our Lord's words elsewhere of 'judge not, lest you also be judged.' This is a favourite scripture quotation of many these days; ironically, generally used by those who would never dream of obeying anything else that Christ teaches – people who, indeed, would deny our Lord's divinity, and perhaps even the existence of God.

However, our Lord's words here, and in many other places in scripture, make it clear that when he teaches us to 'judge not' he is not commanding us to be silent in the face of evil, whether in the world or in the behaviour of others. The Church has always taken it to mean that it is not for us to comment on the eternal fate of those who, ostensibly at least, seem to be very great sinners. That is something that is left to the judgement of God alone; and it is why the Church has never during the entirety of her nearly 2000 year history ever taught that any particular person, no matter how evil they have seemed to be, no matter how great their crimes, have passed from this life into eternal damnation.

But refraining from making this kind of judgement does not mean, as I have already said, being silent when we see those around us breaking God's laws. Let us look at a fictional example to consider why it is important that we should not.

Let us imagine a young, married woman whose husband's job takes him abroad for long periods of time. During one such absence she is seen having drinks with an old boyfriend in the local public house, their behaviour becoming increasingly flirtatious. Her family and friends say nothing. Soon after she goes out for dinner with him on several occasions and then on to local nightclubs until the wee hours. Again her family and friends say nothing. Finally, his car is seen parked outside her house all night, several nights a week. The other nights her car is parked outside his. And still her family and friends say nothing.

And of course they should speak. Why? For the sake of her reputation? Well, naturally, reputations are very important things. A good reputation is more valuable than silver and gold. Indeed, to quote Shakespeare : 'Who steals my purse steals trash … but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.' But even so, there was a more important reason that her friends and family should speak.

For the sake of her marriage? Again, marriage is something of great importance. For the Christian it is something sacred – in the words of our Lord: 'What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' And irrespective of faith, it is the very building block of society. This young woman's action threaten not only her own marriage but also helps undermine the institution of marriage within society. And yet there is an even more important reason that her friends and family should speak to her about the wrongness of her actions.

And that is for the sake of her immortal soul. This woman is engaging in adultery. This is not to judge her – it is to speak the plain and objective facts of the matter. And we all know what the commandment says: 'thou shalt not commit adultery.' And our Lord, even as he protected the woman taken in adultery from those who would stone her to death, told her to 'go, and sin no more.' Why did our Lord tell her to 'sin no more'? Because those who die unrepentant of serious sin face serious eternal consequences. The friends and family of this woman can not know that this woman will be damned; and it is certainly not for them to say that she will be; but that is quite evidently the fate that she is risking. And if her friends and family love her, then the fear of her anger at being told what she is doing is wrong, the worry that she will end their relationship and never speak to them again, will not stop them from speaking to her. Because what is that risk compared by what she risks by her actions?


This example, as I said, is made up. And it covers, you will note, only one of the commandments. There are others. Perhaps it would be good if you went through them all in your mind, if not now, then later. Think of the lives of those whom you love. Are they living in such a way as to break God's law? Would you dare, out of love for them, to tell them so? And as you ponder, think of your own lives. Are there aspects of it that need correcting? And if there are, are you willing to do so? And if not, do you have friends and family loving enough to help you, loving in the true sense of love, love that will only the best for the other person, understanding that the best must always look to the eternal salvation of the one they love? I pray that you do – even as I pray that you will love all others in his way in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 9 September 2017

Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.’ 
Luke 6.6

Reflection
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Why then do so many who call themselves his followers neglect him or pay him little heed on the day that is his?

Friday, September 8, 2017

prayer diary Friday 8 September 2017 - Birth of the BVM

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.' 
Luke 1. 46,47

Reflection 
Mary, utterly pure, rejoiced at the privilege of being the Mother of our Lord. Should not we also rejoice, we for whom he took flesh, died for our sins, and nourishes with his own body and blood in the Blessed Sacrament?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 7 September 2017

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ 
Luke 5.8

Reflection
The honest and humble response to the greatness of God is to recognise how unworthy we are. And yet, God loves us and calls us to serve him.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 6 September 2017

Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them. 
Luke 4.39

Reflection
The example of St Peter's mother-in-law speaks to us all. God provides us with everything. Our first response should be that of grateful service.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 5 September 2017

They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. 
Luke 4.32

Reflection
Mere mortals that we are, we can not claim to have authority like Christ's. And yet if we pass on his teaching faithfully, the authority that is his teaching shines through.

Monday, September 4, 2017

prayer diary Monday 4 September 2017

They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 
Luke 4.22

Reflection
We all face those who say things like 'who do you think you are to teach me anything?' Take courage from the fact that Christ himself faced the same problem; and that the teaching you share comes not from you but from the Father of us all.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

false compassion

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

In our Gospel reading today*(printed below) we see St Peter try to persuade our Lord from accepting the things that must happen to him – that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer greatly at the hands of the authorities there, and be killed. And it must surely seem to us that the reaction of St Peter is a very natural one – the man whom he has left everything for to follow, the man he believes to be the promised and long-awaited Messiah, the man he has declared to be the Son of the Living God, the man he calls master and teacher and Lord, the man he loves more than life itself has told him that he is soon to face a very cruel fate. And the greatest of the Apostles is quite frankly appalled. So much so that he is moved to speak to our Lord in a manner that is, to put it bluntly, astonishing. He begins to rebuke him! Imagine – a mere man takes it upon himself to rebuke the One he knows to be the Son of God! But, as I said, at a certain level his reaction to the information that Jesus shares with him about future events can be seen as being quite natural. Who among us, after all, would be happy to be told that even someone we did not like very much was soon to suffer greatly and then die? And if we were told that this was to be the fate of someone we greatly loved, would we not do everything within our power to prevent those terrible future events from taking place?

And yet the reaction of our Lord shows that reactions such as St Peter's are not to be countenanced. Consider: he does not say to him 'I know that you are saying this because you love me and do not wish to see me suffer'; and he does not say 'you speak this way because you are a man of great compassion who does not wish to see someone else in pain'. No; he says 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.' He is telling St Peter that when he behaves in this way, even though he may think he speaks out of love, out of compassion, that he is actually doing the work of Satan; that far from being good, what he is doing is evil. Why? Because he is placing the way human mind thinks and the human heart feels above the will of God as it has been revealed to him. And let us be quite clear – God's will has been revealed to him concerning this matter in a very unambiguous and direct way. For he has been told by Jesus himself what the fate of the Christ is to be; and he himself, only moments before, just a few verses prior to those we hear read in our Gospel reading today, when Jesus asks his disciples who do they say that he is, has declared that he is the Christ, the Son of God.

This, of course, makes St Peter's actions all the more surprising. He knows this is the will of God – for the Son of God himself has told him that it is. And yet he sets himself to argue against it. This demonstrates to us what a powerful temptation it is that St Peter faced – the temptation that when obeying God's will seems hard or to come at a great a cost to try and find a way around it. It is so powerful a temptation that it is little wonder that we will often hear people speak out against the clear teachings of Scripture or the Church founded by Christ, saying that those teachings must be changed, or if not changed at least not acted upon, so we can deal with people more compassionately, or more pastorally … but it is a false compassion as the reaction of our Lord to the words of St Peter shows. It is false because even though these things may seem good, even godly to us, they are not – they are evil, they are of Satan. It is false because it puts the desires of men before the will of God.


And it is false because it forgets, as St Peter did that day, that there are things beyond this life. For when our Lord outlined the fate of the Christ to his disciples on that occasion, it did not end with suffering, it did not end with death. It ended with the Resurrection – the Resurrection which is for us the promise of eternal life. That is why Jesus was able to tell his followers that they must take up their cross if they wished to follow him; because no matter what it cost them to do so, it would not end in death for them just as it did not for him – it would end in eternal life. And it was for eternal life that we were all created; it was for eternal life for us all that Christ suffered and died and rose again; and it is for eternal life, for ourselves and all others that we must daily strive … even as we pray for it in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

*Matthew 16: 21-28

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you." 23* But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men." 24* Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27* For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. 28* Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 2 September 2017

But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 
Matthew 25.18

Reflection
We all know the fate of the servant who did nothing with the talent entrusted to him – his master called him wicked and lazy and cast him out. The gifts God gives us are to be used for his glory in the world. There is much to lose if you do not and everything to be gained if you do.

Friday, September 1, 2017

prayer diary Friday 1 September 2017 (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

Reflection
This life is but a preparation for the next. And there will come a moment when all the time for preparation is gone and you will be judged on what has gone before. Pray that your life will be such that Jesus knows you and opens the door.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 31 August 2017

'Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.' 
Matthew 24.42

Reflection
We know neither the moment of our own death nor the day when our Lord will come again. Therefore it is plain common sense to live as if either might come any moment.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 30 August 2017

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For 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

Reflection
There is more to your life of faith than convincing the neighbours you lead a God-fearing life. What goes on behind closed doors where they cannot see matters also, as does your own interior life which is known only to you and your Creator.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 29 August 2017

'You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!' 
Matthew 23.24

Reflection
Is that not true of many of us, that we take great care over the smaller matters of our faith while ignoring the major ways in which we breach God's holy laws? What Jesus condemned in his own day is made no less sinful by the passage of time

Monday, August 28, 2017

prayer diary Monday 28 August 2017

‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.' 
Matthew 23.13

Reflection
Who 'locks' people out of heaven by harsh teaching today? Perhaps there is a new danger now - those who try to make the faith so easy that it asks nothing of us at all.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

God's Church will prevail

I'm not preaching this Sunday, but I thought I'd offer a few quick thoughts on today's Gospel from St Matthew: 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter,  and on this rock  I will build my church, and the powers of death  shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (
16: 13-20)

There are many who worry about the decline in the practice of religion in our society. And they are right to do so - but not because it signals the demise of the Church, but because of the evidence it provides of the spiritual danger so many are in. The Church will never fail; it will last until the end of the ages. Christ himself told us so - no evil of the world, the flesh, or the devil can prevail against it. If we have supernatural faith like St Peter, who recognised and acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God we will know this to be true and not be afraid. However, this is not reason for complacency. As I said above, the troubling behaviour we see should give us cause for concern regarding the eternal fate of many. Therefore, we must fearlessly preach the word to them, lead them to Christ by the example of our lives, and pray for them always. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 26 August 2017

'The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice' 
Matthew 23. 2,3

Reflection
Sadly there are often sacred ministers who fail to lead holy lives. But their lack of holiness does not invalidate the Truth of what the Church teaches. However, be careful that what they teach is indeed in accord with that Truth; for there are those who will offer teaching intended to make their own misdeeds seem good.

Friday, August 25, 2017

prayer diary Friday 25 August 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 
Matthew 22.37

Reflection
Loving God totally and unreservedly is the first step on the road to holy living. Focus on this first; and from it all other virtues will flow.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 24 August 2017 (St Bartholomew)

'For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.' 
Luke 22.27

Reflection 
The world sees success as the gathering together of many possessions; but all these mean nothing if at death you are without treasure in heaven. St Bartholomew left everything to follow Christ, giving up even life itself for his sake. And yet he died a richer man than many kings. And so may we, if only we follow his example.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 23 August 2017

And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 
Matthew 20. 9-10

Reflection
The Lord has but one reward for all who serve him – eternal life. Do not spend so much time thinking you are more worthy than others of God's free gift, lest by your vanity you lose this reward for yourself.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 22 August 2017

And Jesus said to his disciples, 'Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.' 
Matthew 19. 23

Reflection
Do not say to yourself 'I am not wealthy' and think that therefore these words do not apply to you. Think rather of the great attachment you have to your material possessions and whether your love for them stands between you and God.

Monday, August 21, 2017

prayer diary Monday 21 August 2017

Jesus said to him, 'If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' 
Matthew 19. 21

Reflection
Not all are called to Holy Poverty for the sake of the Kingdom. But all are called to love God above all else and at all times strive to lay up treasure in heaven.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

no room for race hate in the Church

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

There is a very obvious theme running through our readings today from Sacred Scriptures – and that is how God is the God of all people upon the earth; and his Son was sent for all. In our Old Testament reading God, speaking though his prophet Isaiah says his house will be a house of prayer for all people. In our epistle St Paul reminds the Romans that God is merciful to all, Jew and Gentile. And in our Gospel reading the Canaanite woman comes to Jesus asking for healing for her daughter, who is tormented by a demon; she is a foreigner, but she seeks God's help and mercy – and her prayer is granted.

This message that God is the God of all people, with no preference being given to the colour of their skin or what part of the world they may happen to come from, is very timely in the light of recent events in the United States, where Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists marched openly in the streets. Theirs is the quite frankly evil ideology that lead to the Holocaust, a dark stain in the history of humanity when millions of innocent lives were brutally snuffed out on the basis of the nonsensical and blatantly pseudo-scientific notion that some races were superior to others and that the interests of 'racial purity' demanded that what were deemed 'lesser races' be exterminated.

Now, when we think of the Holocaust we quite naturally think first of the Jews, six million of whom lost their lives in its horrors. But we must also remember that over eleven million others, mainly Slavs, lost their lives as well. They were also deemed to be lesser by this dreadful ideology; as were those of African origins and many others too. That over seventeen million lost their lives is horrifying and reason enough that such beliefs as these should be seen as being beyond the Pale. But this mind-numbingly large number was simply the tip of the ice-berg in terms of what was intended. Had the Nazis prevailed, their evil ideology would have required the death of not just millions but billions.

Sadly, sometimes there are those who try to claim that religion justifies racism. Sometimes they do so to justify their own racism; and sometimes they do so in order to justify their own prejudice against religion. But as our readings from Sacred Scriptures today make clear there is no basis upon which a person can find comfort for such views in the Holy Bible. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that just as the Lord told his followers that they could not serve two masters and could not serve both God and Mammon, neither can a person claim to be a follower of Christ while also adhering to this kind of ideology. How could they? The first is to seek to be holy as God is holy; the second is evil and therefore must be seen as belonging to the Evil One.

He is, of course, the Father of Lies; and the lie that one race is somehow superior to another is one of his most noxious ones. It is denied by science which, by virtue of the study of DNA, tells us that ultimately all men and women of the earth are kin to each other, that no matter how far you travel every person you meet is a distant relation. And it is denied by Sacred Scripture, which tells us that we are all children of our First Parents, Adam and Eve.

Because the Christian faith is utterly hostile to such an evil ideology, it is important the Christian faith in all its fullness be proclaimed fearlessly in the world. We must never forget that many thousands of brave Christian men and women also died during the Holocaust, sent to the death camps specifically because they knew their faith demanded of them that they speak out against the evil they saw taking place around them. They spoke then; we must speak out now – not just against this evil, but all the evils in the world today. We may not have white supremacists in our nation, but there are plenty of other evil creeds seeking to tempt the unwary, the gullible, the dissatisfied, or the oppressed soul to follow them. And also, because we know that those who follow such evil ideologies are deluded by lies and falsehoods, we must pray for them. For our Scripture readings today tells us today that God desires the Salvation of all. And deluded though they are, they are also our brothers and sisters, some through their baptism, all through their blood. We must never abandon them to the Evil which has ensnared them but instead pray for them endlessly - in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

prayer diary Monday 14 August 2017

The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.’ And they were greatly distressed. 
Matthew 17. 22,23

Reflection
The disciples were distressed at our Lord's prophetic words, as are we when when we consider he suffered and died for our sins. Why then do we continue to sin wilfully?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

walking on water

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

Today's Gospel reading is the account of our Lord's walking on water. It is a dramatic display of his divine power and has become justly famous, so much so that the phrase 'to walk on water' is widely used in popular culture – so that, for example, a person who has done something seemingly impossible might well say 'and for my next trick I will walk on water' or a person who thinks he is above others and doesn't think the usual limits apply to him might be disparagingly described as 'thinking he can walk on water.'

Read carefully, the account in fact details three miracles. First our Lord walks on water; next he permits St Peter to join him on the surface of the lake and walk on water also; and finally, he calms the storm that is afflicting those in the boat. And each teaches us something important about Christian life.

Looking at the first: initially when the disciples see Christ coming towards them, they are terrified. There they are, in a boat, in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, with a storm raging all around them. And suddenly they see someone walking towards them. That they should react with fear, thinking it is some kind of apparition, is not surprising. But Jesus tells them not to be afraid. And the fear leaves them.

We also have much to be afraid of. We live in a world that surrounds us with threats, both physical and spiritual. But we have been washed in the waters of Baptism and made part of his Body, the Church; we are fed on the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist; and we have the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Traditions of his Church to guide us. Christ is with us also; and therefore we need not be afraid, whatever threatens.

It is in response to this first display of divine power that the second follows. St Peter sees our Lord on the water and asks him, if it is he, to command him to come to him. Our Lord does; and St Peter obeys. It is important for us to note here that the apostle does not attempt to do this in his own strength; he does not see Jesus walking on the lake and say to himself 'well, if he can do it, then so can I!' No, he seeks to do so in the power of our Lord; more, he asks him to command him to do so. And when, because of the howling wind around him he becomes frightened and begins to sink, his immediate response to to call out to our Lord, who saves him.

We as Christians often face great difficulties. Sometimes they seem impossible to overcome. But here we see St Peter, rather than try to avoid what seems impossible, instead actively seeking it out … and remembering that it is by God's power that he prevails; even when he doubts he remembers this. And therefore rather that giving up, he prays to God for further help. And God grants him that help.

Our Lord and St Peter then join the others in the boat. And the wind at once ceases. The storm is over. And the response of the disciples to this final miracle is equally immediate. They worship him, saying that he is truly the Son of God – the first time in the Gospels that he is recognised as such.

Many Church Fathers regard the tempestuous sea as representing the world; and the boat, once Christ has entered in, as being his Church. Thus it is the only place where we may truly find safety; and therefore we as Christians must be careful never to separate ourselves from it. Christ did not found his Church idly; it is a vital part of his plan for the salvation of all. His Church is the people of God; and a person who deliberately sets themselves apart is not part of a people. His Church is the only place where we may be in fellowship with those other people who are also members of the body of Christ. And his Church is the only place where we may partake in the Sacraments that sustain us during our earthly pilgrimage that is intended to lead us to our heavenly home. In our Gospel reading it is in the boat that the disciples worship Jesus; and if we are also to worship him rightly we must also do so from within that boat, that ark of Salvation, which is his Church.


And as I finish, a final thought. There is an element of fear in each of these three miracles: the fear of the disciples when they see Christ approaching; St Peter's fear that causes him to sink; and the fear all in the boat have of the storm that threatens them. Christ takes away the fear in all three instances; and he can take away the fears that surround us and threaten us, not just our bodies but our very souls, if only we will trust in him – something that we must all pray for: in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 12 August 2017

'All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.' 
Matthew 23.12

Reflection
Those who seek power and position in this life risk paying a high price. True glory lies in humbly serving both God and your fellow man.

Friday, August 11, 2017

prayer diary Friday 11 August 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”'
Matthew 22.39

Reflection 
What does it mean to love your neighbour? To do all you can to ensure that they are happy in this life is doubtless important. But earthly happiness must never be bought at the expense of eternal happiness in the world to come.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 10 August 2017

“Tell those who have been invited … come to the wedding banquet.”But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business,while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 
Matthew 22. 4-7

Reflection 
The pleasures of this world can distract some from the higher prize, some even to the point where they mock or abuse the faithful. But let not that dishearten you, but rather let knowing what they risk loosing cause you to work even harder for the salvation of their souls.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 9 August 2017

'When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.' 
Matthew 20. 9,10

Reflection 
God has but one reward for all who truly love him, eternal life. But do not presume therefore to delay entering into his service lest, like the foolish virgins, you find that the chance has passed you by.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 8 August 2017

‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.' 
Matthew 18. 3,4

Reflection 
It takes humility to enter God's kingdom. We must, with the joy and trust of children, let go of all our pride and accept that the One who created us asks that we hear and obey the holy laws he has given us in His Son's divine teaching.

Monday, August 7, 2017

prayer diary Monday 7 August 2017

Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' 
Matthew 17.21 

Reflection 
Not all are called to sell all we have; but we are to be detached from our possessions so they do not serve to distract us from our relationship with God. For if the focus of our lives becomes our earthly goods then we are without treasure in heaven.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

the feeding of the five thousand

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

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is familiar to us all – so familiar that one might ask what is there that is new to be said about it? But the point, of course, when speaking of Sacred Scripture is not to find new things to say about it, but rather to remind ourselves of what has always been said about it, to refresh in our minds the Eternal Truths that it contains – Truths, we must remember, that we have by way of Divine Revelation.

So let us begin by considering the miracle in the literal sense. What are we to make of the fact that our Lord was able to feed so great a number of people - 5,000 men, plus woman and children? There they are in the wilderness, far away from the towns and villages of the region. It is getting late and, as the disciples point out, the people have no food with them. But Jesus takes the little food that the twelve have with them and multiplies it so that the vast multitude present are fed – with much left over! That he can do so is a testament to the Divine Power that our Lord possesses.

And we might do well to think in this context of Moses, and how our Lord says somewhere in the Gospels, speaking of himself, that one greater than Moses is here. Moses also fed multitudes in the desert; but the food he supplied came not from him, but from heaven. Christ feeds these people himself, by way of his own power. Moses was the intermediary; but Jesus needs no intermediary, for he is God incarnate.

We must also look at this parable from a didactic sense: what does it teach us, who as Christians are called to be as Christ-like as possible, about how we are to live as Christians? The answer to this, we are told by that great Father of the Church St Jerome, is that just as Christ has compassion on these hungry people and feeds them, so we too must show charitable concern for the poor and needy. The Christian duty of caring for those in need is evident to anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of the Bible, for we are told many places in Sacred Scripture about this duty. And the importance of this charitable duty can not be over-stressed; for as we are taught by our Lord's prophetic words in the parable of the sheep and the goats, those who reject the poor and needy will be set aside by him at the Last Judgement.

And finally today let us also consider this miracle from a sacramental point of view. Note well the description St Matthew provides us of our Lord's actions on this occasion, how he tells us that he took the bread, blessed it, and broke it. The Eucharistic overtones are unmistakable given how closely these words resemble those used in the Gospels of the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. And if those similarities were not enough, our Lord himself links this miracle with the miracle of the Eucharist in St John's account of the occasion. For immediately after, when those who had been fed on bread come to him again looking for more he begins to speak to them of the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood … confusing many of those present at the time, and causing them to ask how could this man give them his blood to drink and his flesh to eat … but we know, of course, that nothing is impossible with God, and that our Lord does indeed do just that in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

And remember also the words of our Lord on that occasion: he says who eat his flesh and drink his blood will have eternal life and he will raise them up on the last day; but those who do not eat his flesh and drink his blood will have no life in them. The salvation of souls is always the primary concern of our Lord – and this should not surprise us for we know that he came into the world that all men might be saved – and so, of course, it must be the primary concern of all Christians … the salvation not only of their own souls but also that of others. It should therefore be a matter of great sorrow for us that all men have not been brought to know the truth of the Christian faith … and of even greater sorrow that of those who profess themselves to be Christians so many partake so infrequently of the healing and saving Sacrament of the Holy Eucharistic … and even then carelessly and unworthily … our Lord sets the banquet of Salvation before us, the foretaste of the great heavenly banquet that is to come … but no one, not us, and not the Lord, can force them to partake.


However, just as it is not the part of the Christian to innovate when it comes to doctrine or interpretation of Sacred Scripture, neither is it our part to despair. Our part is to do what we can to bring them to believe in the Eternal Truths our Lord gave us that they may live them out faithfully, leading them gently to God by the preaching of the Word and the example of our lives … and of course, praying for them always in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 5 August 2017

For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ 
Matthew 14.3,4

Reflection:
Speaking God's truth can come at a cost; and sometimes at a great cost. But we must not be afraid to do so, even if it costs us our very lives.

Friday, August 4, 2017

prayer diary Friday 4 August 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.' 
Matthew 13.57

Reflection
Preaching the Gospel can be hardest in our own communities and homes. Yet these are not only the ones we love most, they are the ones we are the most responsible for helping on the road to salvation.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 3 August 2017

'So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire.' 
Matthew 13.49,50

Reflection
It is a great danger to think that only those you consider to be the wicked will be found wanting on Judgement Day. For we all sin again and again – and excuse our actions instead of repenting and asking God's forgiveness.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 2 August 2017

‘On finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.' 
Matthew 13.46

Reflection:
There is nothing in this world valuable enough to risk losing eternal life for. Temptations seem to offer pleasure; but they come at the risk of everlasting misery.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 1 August 2017

'Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.' 
Matthew 13. 40

Reflection
Christ warns us repeatedly in the Gospels that there will be a judgement at the end of the ages. It is a warning that no one can afford to ignore or take lightly.

Monday, July 31, 2017

prayer diary Monday 31 July 2017

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed …. the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it ... becomes a tree.' 
Matthew 13.31,32

Reflection

We think of many things we work towards in life as being inevitable. Yet what is truly inevitable is that God's Will will be done; and his Kingdom will come.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

the Right Side of History

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

The term 'being on the right side of history' has become very commonly used in the last number of years. It is employed, for example, by those advocating various social changes in Western society with monotonous regularity. It expresses the idea that those changes are inevitable, unstoppable, and those who oppose them will appear foolish in the eyes of those who come later; but it is, in fact, the idea itself that is foolish, both arrogant in the way it presumes that a certain course of action is unquestionably correct, particularly in the way it condemns the former way of doing things, and ignorant in the way it understands history as some kind of a force moving humanity towards some kind an ever better future. Empires may rise, but they also fall; sometimes undermined from within, for example because they have let their seemingly invincible power erode their moral centre; sometimes from without, for example because there are barbarians outside their borders who want what they have or hate what they are; or sometimes both. And their fall should teach us that there is nothing inevitable about human systems, plans, or ambitions.

However, in our Gospel reading today we learn that there is something that is inevitable when it comes to history; and that is that God's Will will be done; and his kingdom will come. This is made very clear in the first two of the series of short parables that we read today - the ones concerning the mustard seed and the yeast that was used to leaven the bread. Both speak of the inevitability of the kingdom. Just as a small seed can become an enormous tree or a small amount of yeast cause a great batch of dough to rise, so will God's Kingdom grow, despite the fact that in human eyes its beginning on earth was humble and small. The truth first spoken by a carpenter born in a stable in an obscure corner of the world could not be stopped from spreading to all the corners of the earth.

The next two parables, that of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price, explain to us why it is that we should wish to do our utmost to do our part to help usher in God's Kingdom - because there is nothing in this life as more important than to be in right relationship with God and being part of his kingdom on earth – not only living our lives in the light of its truth but helping to share that truth with others. Because the message of these parables is not about how we can shrewdly make a profit on a transaction, but about understanding that the things of this life are of limited value – limited because they are transitory – while the things of the kingdom are of infinite value, because they are eternal. As our Lord says elsewhere, what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul?

And that brings us to our final parable, that of the fishermen; and our Lord leaves us in no doubt whatsoever as to how we are to understand this parable, for he explains it to us in no uncertain terms. And in his explanation he makes he clear that at the end of the ages there will be a great sorting of the good from the bad, of the righteous and the evil. And just as the fisherman cast away the bad fish, so will God's angels cast out the unrighteous – and those unfortunate souls, our Lord tells us, will be cast into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

A stark warning; which is made all the more stark when we think carefully about what is meant by those who are evil. For it has been made abundantly clear to us, both in Sacred Scripture and in teaching of the Church down through the ages, that evil here is not mean simply those who rob, murder, rape, or otherwise cause great suffering to others. It is perfectly possible to be what the world calls a 'nice person' and be among the unrighteous. For Christ did not come to suffer and die on the cross so that we might be nice, but that we might be Holy.

When the end of the ages shall come and history itself shall cease there is only one way to be found to be on the 'right side of it' – by being someone who loves God with every fibre of their being; and being someone who shows that love by obeying God's commandments in thought, word, and deed – even if that love should cost them their life. They are the ones who will surely be found to be righteous by God's angels on that great and terrible day – and I pray that all here will be found to be among them: in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 29 July 2017

For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ 
Matthew 14.3,4

Reflection:
John the Baptist was fearless in preaching the truth, even in the face of death. We face far less, yet often we fear to speak out.

Friday, July 28, 2017

prayer diary Friday 28 July 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.' 
Matthew 13.57

Reflection
Sharing Christ's word can be hard indeed when it comes to those closest to us. But because we love them, all the more reason not to shirk from the task. It is a poor kind of love that does not include caring also for the fate of their immortal soul.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 27 July 2017

'So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire.' 
Matthew 13.49,50

Reflection
Again our Lord warns of the judgement to come and how terrible it will be on that day for those who reject God. His warning is one we must take seriously and share with others.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 26 July 2017

‘On finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.' 
Matthew 13.46

Reflection:
All else is as nothing compared to what God offers us. Therefore no sacrifice we may make for the sake of entering into his kingdom can be too great.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 25 July 2017

'Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.' 
Matthew 13. 40

Reflection
Judgement is not something that anyone likes to think about; but Christ warns us of it. If we take seriously his promises of eternal life we must also accept his warnings.

Monday, July 24, 2017

prayer diary Monday 24 July 2017

'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed …. the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it ... becomes a tree.' 
Matthew 13.31,32

Reflection
God's kingdom is an unstoppable force. Allow it to touch your heart and it will transform your life.

Friday, July 21, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 22 July 2017 (St Mary Magdalene)

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ 
John 20.18

Reflection 
Privileged with the first post-resurrection appearance, Mary's first response was a declaration of faith. We also have the privilege of seeing the Lord, but through the eyes of faith. And like Mary we must publicly proclaim him as Lord.

prayer diary Friday 21 July 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.' 
Matthew 20.27

Reflection
The only glory in the Christian life is that of humble service. But what glory it is! For in so doing we serve not only God also, but walk the path that leads to his kingdom.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 20 July 2017

Jesus said: 'Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.' 
Mt 13.17

Reflection
We are among those blessed to see and hear what so many longed for. Do not waste so precious a gift by taking it for granted. Instead daily give thanks to the Lord and serve him with all your heart, strength, mind, and soul.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 19 July 2017

'Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.' 
Matthew 13.7

Reflection:
Jesus explained that the seed that fell among thorns are those who lose faith in the face of the cares of the world. Take his warning then and do not lose eternal life for the sake of things that are passing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 18 July 2017

Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.' 
Matthew 13.30

Reflection:
It may sometimes seem that there are those who escape justice in this life. But life does not end with the grave and justice must at last be faced. And severe indeed is the judgement for those who have refused to serve the Lord.

Monday, July 17, 2017

prayer diary Monday 17 July 2017

But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.' 
Matthew 12.21

Reflection
Those without faith often cry 'extraordinary claims requires extraordinary proof.' Yet all the proof needed exists in the world around us. Demands for more in the shape of signs and wonders is a sign in itself – of an evil and adulterous generation.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

the parable of the sower: many are called, but how many answer?

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

Our Gospel reading today is the parable of the Sower – one of the most well known of all the parables. As well it might be, for its theme is of tremendous importance: how it is that a child of God, created in his image and likeness, is to behave in the face of Divine Revelation, how it is they are to receive his Holy Word that he has given to them by means of the Sacred Scriptures and the Person of His Only Begotten Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity.

Our Lord gives us four examples of how people might behave; but we might break them down into three categories. The first concerns those who hear the word of God and reject it; the second those who hear the word and accept it – and then live as though they do not; and the third those who hear and obey and whose faithfulness is shown through their fruitfulness.

Concerning the first group, those who reject the word, Christ gives two reasons for their behaviour. Those he compares to the path are led astray by the Evil One; and those to the rocky ground, at first believe and then fall away at the first sign of any trouble that may come as a result of being a believer in Christ. They will not carry the Cross. It is important to note here that Christ does not offer these reasons so as to some way excuse what they have done. He is simply stating why they have acted as they did; but the responsibility for their actions remain their own. We might do well to think of our Lord's own sobering words spoken in the final chapter of St Mark's gospel where, having told his disciples to  ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.' he continued by saying: 'The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.'

The second category are those whose faith Christ describes as being as if it had been choked by thorns. They have accepted the faith – but then been led astray by the cares of the world and the lure of material gain; they do not reject the faith publicly, but they have become 'unfruitful' ... effectively they may as well have renounced the faith for all the good it does them – and their example certainly does nothing to bring others to the faith. We may think here of the parable of the talents and of the servant who did nothing with his master's property but bury it in the ground. His reward was to be cast out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth – words that the Fathers of the Early Church always understood to mean as being damned.

And then finally we come to the last category, those who not only have heard the word, but understand and obey, and are fruitful as a result. Some of course will be more fruitful than others; but in that regard it is again useful to consider the parable of the talents. In that also some were more fruitful than others – but all heard the blessed words 'well done, good and faithful servant' and were called by their master to enter into his joy – which, again, has always been held to mean eternal life in heaven.


And as I reach the end, let me leave you with one further thought. It has no doubt struck you, if not today then on some previous occasion when you were reading this parable, that of all the examples our Lord gives, only one group is found to hear and understand, only one to be fruitful, only one to end in the place where all were created to be. All heard the word, all were called; but few responded, few were chosen, few were found worthy of eternal life with our Father in heaven. And this is sad indeed: freely was God's word and grace offered; but freely it was rejected. It remains for us to pray that those who hear but do not respond will be converted in their hearts; that those who hear and believe but then still fail to live as if they did will repent while time remains; and for us to pray that when the time comes we will be numbered among those who are found fruitful, among those blessed to hear the words 'well done good and faithful servant', among those called to enter into the joy of our master. All that indeed is something that we all should pray for not just daily, but unceasingly, in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 15 July 2017

But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. 
Matthew 12.14

Reflection
Consider how the Pharisees, who thought themselves godly men, deliberately set out to break God's law with this conspiracy. Sometimes people fool themselves into thinking they can achieve good ends by evil means. But if the seed is not good, then neither can the fruit be. Do not be tempted to break God's laws for any reason.

Friday, July 14, 2017

prayer diary Friday 14 July 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’ 
Matthew 12.8

Reflection
Christ told the Pharisees he was Lord of the Sabbath; and indeed he is. But his dismissal of the petty and arbitrary rules that they imposed on the people of their day is not to be taken as an excuse for us to treat the Lord's Day as if it were no different than any other.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 13 July 2017

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' 
Matthew 11.28

Reflection 
Such famous words. And what true wisdom; for where else are we to find rest from all the troubles of this life other than in the one who created and sustains us?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 12 July 2017

Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.' 
Matthew 11.25

Reflection
Humility is the key to true wisdom. For those who think themselves wise often reject God's law; but those who are humble are grateful for what he teaches and so may enter into the eternal life that others fail to achieve.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 11 July 2017

'But I tell you that on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.’ 
Matthew 11. 24

Reflection 
Sodom was notorious in Scripture for its decadent living; and great was its fall. But its punishment will seem mild to that in store for those who respond to all that God does for them with contempt and ingratitude.

Monday, July 10, 2017

prayer diary Monday 10 July 2017

‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.' 
Matthew 10.34

Reflection 
Christ does not, of course, want his followers going around attacking people with swords. But neither does he want them to back down in the face of every challenge for the sake of a quiet life. His Good News is not easy for every ear to hear – but that doesn't mean we must stop talking.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

fools for Christ?

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

There is a tendency among those with a distaste for religion to believe that a lack of belief in God is a hallmark of intelligence; and that reason and rational thought is something that is the preserve of the atheist. One might be forgiven for thinking that, perhaps to their horror and bemusement, that there is a biblical justification for their beliefs. In our gospel reading today we hear our Lord say: 'I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants'. If Christ himself says that those who are wise and intelligent are the ones who reject his teachings and those who accept it are like innocent and trusting babes in arms, then who are we to argue? But of course Jesus is speaking with a certain irony here; and all the Church Fathers agree that his intent is not to praise those who turn their face from the Truth of his Word, but to condemn them; for what they consider to be their wisdom and intelligence is more to be thought of as an arrogance and pride that has led them very much astray. They may be wise in their own eyes; and in the eyes of the worldly; but they are not wise in either of the eyes of the Creator or his faithful children.

The reasons as to why a person might reject God are too numerous to go into here. But suffice it to say that it should be a cause of great sorrow to all Christians that there are those who are, like them, created in God's image and likeness who will go through life without the light of faith to guide them. The world contains very many spiritual dangers indeed; and it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid pitfalls if you can not bring yourself to believe that holes even exist.

The lack of faith that exists in others demands a response from us. The first is to give thanks to God for our own faith – and the grace he grants us when faced with the many temptations that can cause one to fall away from the faith. We should also give thanks for those who have passed the faith as they have received it down through the generations; and particular thanks for those who have done their utmost to pass the faith on to us as individuals. We may think here of our own parents, our teachers, and those with roles in the ministries of the Church, particularly the clergy. All these have been obedient to the responsibilities that God has placed on their lives and we owe them a great debt of gratitude for the way in which they have not only instructed us in the faith but also for how they have corrected us when they have seen us going astray. There is no virtue – quite the opposite in fact – in minding our own business when doing so means allowing a brother or sister in Christ to draw too near to spiritual danger; and it is even worse to do so when that fellow-Christian is someone we have a particular duty towards when it comes to passing on the faith to them.

The next thing that it behoves us to do when it comes to the lack of faith in others is to pray for them. It does not matter who they are. If there are those in your own family who doubt or have fallen away, pray for them. If you do not, who will? If you have friends or neighbours who struggle with the faith or have abandoned it altogether, pray for them. Are we not called by God to love our neighbour as ourself? And what greater way is there to show that love than the spiritual assistance that comes from prayer? And pray also for those you do not know, in your communities, in this nation, and in all the corners of the world who live as strangers to God. Christ told us to make disciples of all nations; and while you may not be able to touch each person who has difficulties with knowing God yourself, at the very least you may pray for them that their hearts will be opened to his Truth and his Love.

And the last thing I suggest that Christians should do in the face of the unbelief of others is to know and live their faith as best they can. Knowing our faith allows us to defend it to others – and this is very necessary in an age where so many have a very distorted view of what it is that the Church teaches, a false version of Christianity promulgated by those in the media, academia, and other sectors of society who are hostile to the faith. We must also not only know enough abut the faith to defend it properly, but also be ready and willing to do so. Allowing those who behave like anti-Christs by spreading lies about the faith to do so unchecked is something no Christian should do. Learning about the faith, by the way, is a life long task; we should never believe that we have reached a point where we do not need to strengthen and deepen our faith. That is a task that only ends when, with the Grace of God, we have reached the place we were created to be – with God in heaven.


And to do that we must do more than know the faith – we must live it out. Living it out is one of the greatest ways of bringing the faith to others. We can not hope to convince others of its truth if we do not live as if we ourselves are convinced of its truth. Living it out will put the lie to the notion that it is the recourse of fools; living it out, ceaseless of the cost, will draw others to look again at what it is that we give our lives to; and living it out will, by God's grace, help others to believe in him - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.