Saturday, September 26, 2009

Homily / Sermon for 26th Sunday of the Year (27 Sep 2009)

Anyone who is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:40)

On the face of it, this could seem to be a very puzzling statement by Jesus - especially alongside other things he said. In other places we read that the gate is narrow, the first last and the last first, not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. We hear of the likely disappointment of those who lay up treasure on earth. Of the rich man who goes to Hell while the poor man Lazarus goes to heaven. It may seem that the road to eternal life is hard and tough and narrow … and those who are not Christians, not baptised, outside the faith, outside the Church or even inside but do not live faithful lives, simple do not make it .. They are not ‘with us’.

But actually, the more we think about it, the clearer the message becomes. The invitation is generous, but the challenge tremendous  … and it is not we who judge, but God.

When Christ speaks of the challenges of the life of faith, he is speaking to me, to each one of us individually. I am the one who should tear my own eye out - so to speak- if it causes me to sin. I am the one who is responsible for myself, my own acts, my life of faith. I am the one who must follow the commandments, keep the law of God, love my neighbour, be honest in all my dealings, not harbour grudges.

And when Christ speaks of the wide open doors of the kingdom, the welcome to those of good will, of other faiths and none, to those who ‘are not against us’, he is not speaking about me, but about my neighbours who I must love and not judge, who I must forgive and not resent, who I must cherish and not fear.

It might seem to be another paradox: it is, and that is the logic of love.


For Bidding Prayers, click here

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Homily / Sermon for the 25th Sunday of the Year

‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ (Mark 9:35)

Jesus often deals in paradox. A paradox is a saying, an expression which seems to contradict itself: the first shall be last and the last shall be first; if anyone wants to be first, he must be servant of all; anyone who welcomes me, does not welcome me, but the one who sent me, if you give then you will receive … and so on. And if his words seems self-contradictory, his life even more so: the cross of execution becomes the tree of victory, weakness becomes strength, humility becomes power.

Jesus truly turns the world upside down. And it is not because he speaks in riddles - though many still think so - nor is it because his message is obscure or irrelevant - though there are many who make such claims.

No. Jesus speaks in paradoxes because it is the paradoxes which are true.

The person who hates, or bears a greivance, is never happy but is eaten by bitterness.
The person who is consumed by greed can never be satisfied.
The one who seeks wealth, will always want to possess more.
If you want to be truly happy - you will find that by making others happy.
If you wish to be successful - then you must be ready to learn from others.
If you wish to be liked - then you must show care and concern for those around you.
To seek all these things you seek not them in themselves, but in others.
Not by taking, but by giving.

And if you wish to receive love - then it must not be your expectation - but your constant gift.

Love can never be selfish, because love is - by definition - the giving away of the self: and God is love.


For Bidding Prayers, go to

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Homily / Sermon for 23rd Sunday of the Year

Jesus said: Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And the man’s ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. (Mark 7:34)

Often, when people try to explain the miracles of Jesus they point to the symbolic aspects of the story. And indeed it is true they often have a broader meaning than the original story.

The story comes after disputes between Jesus and the Jewish leaders, when it becomes clear that they are deaf to the truth of the Gospel. In the rite of baptism, there is a ceremony, rarely used in England and Wales, when the priest touches the ear and mouth of the baby and says ‘Ephphatha’, be opened. It is a prayer that the newly baptised may hear the Gospel and speak it. So - some say - this is a symbolic story not a miraculous hearing.

But such interpretations miss the point. This story is not less than a miracle, it is more than a miracle. It is not only symbolic, but more than this.

The story makes clear to us again that body and soul, heart, mind and daily life, are all one. Physical healing is not a symbol of salvation, but it is salvation.

Why are the gifts of hearing and speech so important to human beings? They are gifts, like all gifts, which can be used or abused, but we need them. And those who do not have them, still find ways of receving communication and communicating themselves, because to seek, to hear and to live the truth is part of what it means to be human. We can survive without speech and hearing - but to thrive we must communicate.

Let us pray that our ears may be opened to the truth, and that we may speak it clearly.


For Bidding Prayers (Intercessions) click here