If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

5th. Sunday of Lent (B)

  Fifth Sunday of Lent   (B)   
 (Jeremiah, 31:31-34; Hebrews, 5:7-9; John 12:20-30)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, when relations between Israel and the Lord her God had, so to speak, broken down, with the result that the Lord determined to punish Israel’s faithlessness by sending her children to exile in Babylon, the Lord had, nevertheless, taken care to assure Jeremiah, and through him the whole people of Israel that, despite the adversity and fear to be endured, there would be a future to look forward to, to hope for, after the years of exile and apparent abandonment.  He spoke of a new covenant -- the covenant to be ultimately ratified in the blood of Jesus -- saying:
“This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the LORD: “I will place My law within them and write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Israel had not been faithful to the covenant God had made with her through Moses; she had sought to behave as did the nations around her, not truly wanting to be a chosen people, holy as her God was holy.  The pride and pomp, the pleasures and plenty, of the surrounding nations having seduced her, she wanted to enjoy such things with them.
After around seventy years of exile in Babylon, on returning to Judea, thanks to Cyrus king of the Medes and Persians who had conquered Babylon, the Jews recognized their ancestors’ unfaithfulness to the Law of Moses and did try to reverse that infidelity by close, indeed minute, study of the Law and its implications, together with a scrupulous, and at times excessively literal, observance of all its prescriptions.  This resulted in them proudly putting scholarly knowledge and extravagant observance of the Law first and foremost, while gradually losing touch with humble humanity and the spirit of the Law.  Their attention came to centre on the people’s awareness of their own knowledge and practice of all the Law’s requirements, of their exact conformity with each and every prescription whether written by God or deduced and handed down by themselves. They had the Law, as it were, on the operating table, and like supremely skilful surgeons or morticians, they cut and dissected each and every individual passage and phrase of the Law for classification and documentation; but all the while, the over-riding meaning and significance of the Law was becoming more and more unrecognisable to them, for, having cut the body up into every conceivable constituent part, they were increasingly unable to put it together again as a vital and recognizable whole.   Instead of themselves being formed by the Law they were re-fashioning the Law according to their own ideology and preferences.
When the Lord spoke to Jeremiah of a new covenant, He had, most critically, said:
I will place MY law within them and write it upon their hearts.
God would Himself place His new Law of the new Covenant into man’s mind and heart to guide and inspire him: man would not be allowed to take charge of it in order to make it fit into his merely human categories; on the contrary, this new Law from within -- gifted us by the Father, through His Son, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit -- would raise man up, above and beyond himself, to the level of a true child of God, and living member of the Body of Christ.
Surely this historical precedent is reflected in Our Lord’s own fundamental choice of Church before book: He could have written, drafted, or caused to be suitably prepared, an authoritative Personal account of His own life’s work, teaching, and intentions; but He made no such attempt.  Instead He chose to found a Church based upon the witness and testimony of apostles chosen by Himself after prayer to His Father, then founded and established for all time by the outpouring of His Spirit.  This choice ultimately determined and signifies the central importance of faith in the Christian and Catholic way of life, as the supreme means of man’s total gift of self to God: in accordance with the witness and teaching of a humanly visible Church -- the Body of Christ – and on the basis of faith in the supernatural promise and enduring presence of Jesus to His Church, with the supreme power and sublime wisdom of the Holy Spirit ever at work in her.  Catholic, Christian faith is not commitment to any independent understanding of chosen books, no matter how holy, of themselves, such books might be, no matter how authoritative that understanding considered by human standards.
Later on we were told of a voice coming from heaven in response to Jesus’ prayer, a voice some bystanders thought was that of an angel speaking with Jesus, while others considered it to have been nothing more than a peal of thunder.  Jesus knew it to be the voice of His Father, but He made it expressly clear that:
            This voice did not come for My sake but for yours.
For Jesus was always seeking to give His utmost for the greater glory of His Father; and loving Him in such a way -- utterly and absolutely -- He denied Himself, in the little things as well as the great ones, with a total and selfless commitment that would remain the most sublime model for His future disciples’ life of faith. 
And that choice and appreciation is mirrored in today’s Gospel reading by a most striking fact, for in the Gospel reading today we are told:
There were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast; they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”  Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Thereupon, however, we are told nothing whatsoever about any Personal contact  between Jesus and these ‘first-fruits’ of the Gentiles!   How strange!  Why?
Jesus saw the saving presence of His Father’s Law at work in the hearts and minds of these Greek pilgrims and from this He recognized that His own work was nearly complete: His saving Death, poured-out Blood, and Resurrection alone could seal and ratify His new Covenant and enable His Church to take up and continue His saving work on earth, beginning with these Greeks and continuing throughout the rest of time among all nations and peoples of the world.   Now, with complete selflessness and total trust in His Father, He ‘handed over the reins’ of His life’s work and imminent Death to the Church of His choice saying:
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.  And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Myself.
What significance does all this have for us, here and now?  Much indeed; because in today’s readings we have been given an outline of our human situation in the world today.
Although Christianity is spread world-wide today, many, many Christians behave like the Israelites of old: they do not want to belong to a chosen people called to be holy because their God is holy; they want to be free, they say, to taste whatever the world has to offer; they do not want a law which would forewarn them let alone forbid such unacceptable practices.  The irony of their situation, however, is that though they might claim, at times vociferously, to be advocates of freedom, they gladly abdicate their freedom of spirit by enslaving themselves -- becoming addicts indeed -- to pleasure, money, and pride.
There are others who like the Jews, apparently zealous, try to manipulate the Gospel and indeed God Himself, rather than allow themselves to be formed by the Spirit according to the way of the Good News of Jesus.  They seize upon some particular aspect or teaching of that Good News and then try make their choice the whole of the Gospel message: they rejoice in their version of the Good News but have no time or desire to let their minds be illuminated and guided by the whole Gospel.  The Gospel, some say, is Good news, which, for them, means that Christians should be make themselves seen to be continually rejoicing with clap-happy attitudes which worldly people can recognize.  Others will seize upon the discipline of the Gospel and forget compassion, sympathy and understanding for others: strong in their own observance of that discipline they freely give way to criticism of the failings and weaknesses they think they observe in others.   Even more frequently encountered today is the idea that the Gospel is compassion and love to such an extent that the Gospel has no commands and no sanctions, nor does the majesty of God demand any soul-sanctifying reverence or humility from us.
People of God, the Father has drawn us to Jesus in Mother Church, and He has given us His Holy Spirit, not simply to save us from sin and death, but to save us from sin and death by reforming us for heavenly life.  That formation extends to and involves the whole of our being: the way we think, the way we love; the hopes we cherish for the future and the ideals we try to realize here and now; the joys we gratefully embrace and the sorrows we patiently accept; the service we seek to give and the selfishness we try to reject.   Because we are being formed for a life we cannot yet see, a heavenly life, therefore we cannot prescribe for ourselves; on the contrary, we have to pray the Holy Spirit that He will guide us in the way of Jesus; and, having prayed thus, we must have the humility to accept life as coming from Him and the patience to respond with love for Him in whatever situation we find ourselves involved:
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, there also will My servant be. The Father will honour whoever serves Me.
Perhaps the greatest, most difficult and yet most beautiful lesson we have to learn from the Gospel is love of the Cross, because the Cross seems to contradict all that is natural within us.  We have to be willing, therefore, to accept, with Jesus, that we are here for a purpose which is not of our own choosing, it is God’s purpose and plan for each and every one of us individually, in Jesus: one which, through the Cross, we seek to embrace personally and fulfil sincerely throughout our life; one that is already -- here on earth -- our greatest privilege, one that will be -- in heaven -- our supreme glory:
“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
In order that God’s name be glorified and His purpose be fulfilled in and through us, we have to be totally informed by the presence, and reformed by the working, of His Holy Spirit in our lives.  Let us therefore beseech the Spirit to form us in Jesus for the Father, to the extent that we may be brought to cry out with Him:
Father, glorify you name
and hopefully be privileged to share, in Him, that heavenly response:
            I have glorified it (in my Son), and I will glorify it again (in you, my child).

Sunday, 18 March 2012

4th. Sunday of Lent (B) Laetare Sunday

Fourth Sunday of Lent (B)
Laetare Sunday

  (2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21)

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
People of God, let us first of all call to mind the event referred to in our Gospel reading which originally took place when Israel was being led through the desert from slavery in Egypt towards freedom in the Promised Land.
The people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread."   So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.   Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people.   Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live."   So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:5-9)

It must have seemed very mysterious to the People of Israel when, later on, scrutinizing the Scriptures in order to better understand and serve the Lord their God, they were faced with that bizarre incident taken from the history of their forebears journeying across the desert.  It was, indeed, mysterious for them -- and unavoidably so -- because the whole episode was rich with meaning and significance for not only subsequent Israelites over more than 1000 years, but even more particularly for the whole future Christian people.  In the desert, a few hundred, perhaps even a few thousand, of the children of Israel were saved by looking up at the bronze likeness of a serpent: however, interpreted for us by Jesus’ Gospel words, the memory of their experience carries with it a salutary teaching for countless millions of Christian people throughout time.
God, having sent the punishing serpents to do their work among a sinful and rebellious people, was then, subsequently, able to turn that deadly instrument of His wrath into a saving grace: look faithfully at the bronze serpent in sincere acknowledgment your sin, and you will be healed of your wounds.  For us now, Jesus says, God the Father has allowed His only begotten Son, His Beloved, to be rejected by the religious authorities of His own people, before being most cruelly tortured and exhibited on the Cross, and left to suffer a slow and agonising death by the powers and principalities, the might and dominion, of imperial Rome.
Can God turn that most brutal, degrading, and horrendous event to any good purpose?  Most assuredly He can, for we have not yet mentioned the pearl of great price covered but not smothered by those happenings.  For He Who suffered was -- as He loved to name Himself -- the Son of Man: as the Son (of the Father) He was consumed with divine love for us; while, as Man, and as our Head, He loved, divinely, His Father with the total fullness of His sublimely perfect humanity.   The complete answer to our question was made manifest when Jesus, three days later, rose from the dead; for then His rejection and exposition on the Cross of suffering and death was shown to have been but a prelude to, and preparation for, His sublime exaltation into heavenly glory.
Father, the hour has come.  Glorify your Son that your Son may also glorify You.  (John 17:1)
Subsequently, for those who, by the Gift of the Spirit, would come to believe that what God’s infinite goodness and omnipotent power had brought about in and for Jesus could also be extended to us, despite our human sinfulness and all the wiles of Satan; yes, for all who would learn to reject themselves for humble love of Jesus and confident trust in God, the Father does, indeed, accept His beloved Son’s triumph on the Cross for our salvation and His own glory.
Just go back in your mind to the original event in the desert.  God had sent venomous snakes which killed many Israelites who had sinned grievously by inveighing against the Lord and against Moses.  Imagine the terror of those bitten by the serpents: their fear as the poison began inexorably to work in their bodies; why, even those who were not bitten must have been agonized to see all this horror going on around them and hear the cries of those who were in searing pain and staring death in the face.  It was such people, people like us but in such a situation, who were told to look up at the bronze serpent.
Trust the command!  Stop your screaming, stop your panic, stop your frantic attempts to somehow suck out the poison or cauterise the wound, stop even your hugging and your sobbing: stop all that and just get a hold of yourself, and then do what the Lord says: Look at the bronze serpent!
People of God, the message is startlingly clear for us today.   If we are to look at the Crucifix and draw life from the Lord of life shown hanging there, if we are to consider Our Blessed Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection in the course of our Lenten devotion, we must look, consider, in a special way.  We cannot look in a merely notional way: nodding our acceptance (for it could hardly be called ‘belief’), and remaining otherwise indifferent and disinterested.  We have to look with the eyes of people who are deeply involved: people who are painfully conscious of sin and its effect in their own lives; who deeply regret their own sinful participation in and promotion of ‘the sin of the world’; people who, having not the slightest doubt of their own great need of salvation, are consequently willing to commit themselves completely -- their life, death, and destiny – to the Saviour upon Whom they are told to fix their eyes.
We have, therefore, to be honest with ourselves: we are not allowed to hide our sinful tendencies, our own weaknesses, ignorance, and selfishness, from ourselves.  We have to be willing to acknowledge not only our own past sins but also the potential for wickedness that still lurks within and around us through our abiding self-love and largely-unsuspected spiritual fragility, dangers which could -- but for the saving grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the icon of God the Father’s love  for us -- work in us the spiritual equivalent of the serpent’s burning, lethal, bite.
Our Lord on the Cross is, I say, the icon of the Father’s love for us; but likewise He is also the icon of God’s hatred of sin and of His determination to eradicate sin from His future Kingdom by uprooting it from the hearts of all who would be His children in Jesus.  To this end, for those of us who believe, for those who, like us, look with hope and love at the Crucified One, the Father has given us His Son’s Holy Spirit -- that other Advocate and Comforter promised by Jesus -- to abide with us, to be in us, guiding and sustaining us throughout our lives.  And God’s Gift  of the Spirit has already begun our healing because, in our celebration of Holy Mass, the living presence of the once crucified, still self-offering, Son of the Father, is also shown -- when lifted up – as the sublime source and symbol of, the supreme food for, mankind’s repentant love for the Father.  Moreover, the Spirit has placed us in another promised land, or rather, in that other garden, which is Mother Church, where the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is given us according to our measure along with the grace that enables us to use such knowledge to our greater good.  That is what you heard in the second reading:
Even when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) brought us to life with Christ.
And now, living by the Spirit of Jesus Who is to be henceforth our divine Guide, we have to allow ourselves to be led by Him -- not constantly complaining as did the Israelites of old -- but willingly and gratefully guided and conducted by Him along the way of Jesus.  For, ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit Who is guiding Mother Church; and it is by the action of His grace in our lives that we are enabled to appreciate her sacraments and obey her teaching, as St. Paul said:
(God) raised us up with Christ, and seated us with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus; for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you, it is the gift of God (that is, the work of the Spirit, Who is Himself the very Gift of God’s own Being).
‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done …’, that is what we pray, People of God, and that is what is happening in us, to us and through us, because the Father -- imperceptibly, yet always and irresistibly – is, by the Spirit, forming us in Jesus for His Kingdom, bearing us along on the flood tide of His eternal goodness, wisdom and power.
On this ‘Laetare Sunday’, therefore, let us indeed rejoice with great joy and deep gratitude that the Lord has so mercifully chosen us for His eternal purposes; and let us humbly pray that we may always swim wholeheartedly along with that tide of divine love and compassion until it brings us to our home shores:
Raised up and seated with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

3rd. Sunday of Lent (B)

3rd. Sunday of Lent (B)  
(Exodus 20:1-17; 1st. Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25)

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,  as well as the money-changers seated there.    He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables,  and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
Jesus whipped the bodies of those Jews who desecrated His Father’s house, so as to save their souls; and, even though market trading in our churches is not a feature of present-day Catholic life, nevertheless, we must not pass over our Gospel reading too quickly or too easily, for Jesus still whips – so to speak – those who do public evil, through the words of His Church condemning such evils.  And though good and practicing Catholics sincerely reject and avoid what is bad in the public eye, because there are some, who, though remaining most concerned to evade the public eye do not always seek to avoid the evil, our reading continues to demand our attention as its scope both widens and deepens:
Jesus knew them all.  He never needed evidence about any man.
And so, in this season of Lent, it is good, and we are well advised, to have a critical look at our religious practice.  First of all, is it basically in tune with human life?
Frequently religious practice is said to be a futile, and somewhat cowardly, attempt to escape life; or a childish fear of, and refusal to face up to, the flesh and blood experience of our human situation.   And at times some Catholics might seem to give substance to such assertions by leading dangerously split lives in which their Church life, their religious life, is seen to be something quite different from, other than, their ordinary living: something so intensely emotional and secretly obsessive that is can only be maintained for relatively short periods and must be cut off, separated from, the rest of the person’s ‘ordinary’ life.
That such are mistaken appreciations of Christian and Catholic religious life is immediately evident, surely, from the fact that Jesus, ‘a friend of publicans and sinners’ is our inspiration, aspiration, and our model, not John the Baptist who lived on locusts and wild honey he found in the desert.
True Christian religious practice is, indeed, much more intimately connected with, and indeed consistent with, our everyday living and being than anything else could possibly be, for it informs and embraces, and would fulfil and transfigure, the whole of our life, living, and being.
Religious faith is concerned with God: our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Hope; and expresses itself in and through basic, every-day, attitudes and essential activities: we thank God for creating us; we praise Him for the beauty that surrounds and inspires us, for the majesty and power that fill us with humble admiration and awe; we ask Him to sustain us in all our many and daily-recurring human needs; we pray to Him for guidance, help, and strength in our acknowledged personal weaknesses and failings; and finally we hope for, aspire to, His promise of an eternal future for which life here on earth, through the relationships we have formed and the truths we have envisaged, seems to be preparing us.
Such attitudes just touched upon: gratitude and joy in response to creation in and around us; humble peace and trustful confidence as we accept ourselves before God; and hope for a transcendent future …. that is what our Catholic religious practice is about, and as such it is a supremely healthy and most fulfilling preparation and support enabling us, as human beings, to live life to the full.  It is, most assuredly, basically in tune with human life!
Lent, however, calls upon us to look beyond the basics, for we are painfully aware that our practice of the faith, as Catholics, is obviously not good enough to convince the world around us … not good enough, apparently, to convince, perhaps, even friends alongside us … and indeed, most sadly, not always good enough to convince some our own family living most intimately with us, that it is admirable in itself and desirable for them.  Therefore, let us turn our attention back to today’s readings for help to recognize how best to practice and thus, we pray, to present the faith we love to those we love.
As we regard Our Blessed Lord in the Gospel reading one thing surely hits us in the eye: He was not wishy-washy!  His love for His Father, His appreciation of the holiness of the Temple and the dignity befitting worship conducted there -- in His Father’s house for His Father’s glory -- burst all possible restraints of human self-centred prudence, self-promotion and self-protection.  He was Lord in all His words and deeds, and His actions on that occasion are all marvellous in our eyes!  Ours indeed to admire, but not, in our state of comparative un-holiness to directly imitate.  Nevertheless, with that awareness of Jesus in mind let us look at the other readings Mother Church has put before us today, and with their help continue to critically regard ourselves.
Our first reading recounted God’s gift of the Ten Commandments to His People through Moses.  Then recall the psalm we heard … what sheer delight and most beautiful joy the psalmist takes in God’s commandments … they refresh the soul, give wisdom to the simple, they rejoice the heart and enlighten the eye: words that are absolutely and sublimely true for all who have tried to live and learn from their observance over the years. And then, above all, for me, those blunt and earthly words of wonder at the end:
They are more precious than gold, than a heap of gold!  Sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb!!
And how apologetic are we today about those commandments, how easily embarrassed in their defence, how solicitous lest we offend others by defending them, especially when targeted by some tearful woman or aggressive man!!
Again, notice the confidence of Paul and the early Church in our second reading: they were small in number; most being poverty-stricken outcasts from what was their native society, be it Jewish or Roman; they were persecuted and prosecuted by the Jewish religious or the Roman civil authorities.  Reviled, mocked, and criminalised on all hands by the learned or by the mob, and yet, for all that, Paul could say, as you heard in the second reading:
The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
And so, despite contradictions, mockery, and persecutions, the early Christians were full of confidence in their witness to Jesus Christ, because, as Paul said:
We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
What pride and confidence they had in the Faith!  Those forebears of ours, the early Christians, were totally convinced of, and boundlessly grateful for, the Faith they had been privileged to hear and embrace; and for the fact that they themselves had been personally called to witness to Christ before the world through the power of the Spirit they had received from the risen Lord of Glory in Mother Church:
To (us) who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God..
Now, if we are to bear witness to Jesus today in our modern society which is largely secularised and unsympathetic to religious attitudes and values, we must have like confidence in the God we worship, the Saviour we love, and the faith by which we live in the Church we believe.  Our confidence, however, cannot be a worldly confidence which sometimes manifests itself as the brashness of those who come knocking and arguing at our doors; nor, what is much worse, can it be a devilish confidence based on a presumed personal holiness.  Our confidence, on the contrary, must be a confidence in God, shot through and through with gratitude to the glorious God and Father who has deigned to choose us and wills to use us for His saving purposes despite our obvious failings and weaknesses which the Gospel has enabled us to see.   People of God, without such humble gratitude our confidence would not be a Christian confidence.
Today, part of the failure of Christians to bear witness to the truth about Jesus is due to the fact that they are embarrassed by Paul’s words:
(The Gospel) we proclaim -- Christ crucified -- (is), to those who are called, (the Gospel of) Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
They fear it is somehow proud and sinful to think like that; and, because they are afraid of appearing to be disrespectful of other peoples’ religious opinions, they will seek to persuade themselves to sideline the faith they profess and water down the glory of their calling.
How sad and foolish such thinking is!   For, as I said, the confidence we must have is a confidence in God’s power and God’s wisdom, together with a humble awareness of our responsibility to live up to the calling He has given us; and the modern refusal to embrace such confidence is a sign of lack of faith, lack of gratitude, and also a sign of self love which would make people afraid that the gift they have received might stir up opposition or criticism from others.
The glorious apostle Paul had no doubt concerning his own fitness for his ministry:
I became a minister (of the Gospel) according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. (Ephesians 3:7)
His fitness for the work of apostle was a gift; and that gift of the grace of God was not in any way exclusive to Paul himself since he proclaimed a like gift of power and fruitfulness for all true believers when (Ephesians 1:19-21) he spoke of:
The exceeding greatness of (God’s) power toward (all of us) us who believe.
Moreover, the Word we are called to bear witness to, the Word we celebrate and meditate here at Mass every Sunday, of its very nature, does not return to Him fruitless, as the prophet Isaiah (55:11) tells us:
My word that goes forth from My mouth shall not return to Me void, but shall accomplish what I please and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
And so, God’s word working in and through us might well appear as the foolishness and weakness of ourselves before it is revealed as the wisdom and power of God.  We cannot refuse such a blessing, surely!
Likewise, only if our witness to Him is made in simple trust and confidence in His truth – that is, unadulterated by any scheming of our own -- will it bear the fruit He wants from us.
The world we are seeking to serve in Christ is beyond our understanding:
While He was in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, many began to believe in His name when they saw the signs He was doing.  But Jesus would not trust Himself to them, because He knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.  He Himself understood it well.
Only God fully knows the mind and heart of man.  Jesus did not trust Himself even to those in Jerusalem who appeared to believe in Him because of His miracles He had performed.  Likewise, we must not rely on human schemes or stratagems, for only God’s wisdom can guide us in our endeavours to promote the Gospel in our world today.  Our witness to the Faith has to be a proclamation of Jesus’ truth made in love and sincerity by the power of the Spirit; we most certainly have no need to seek to ingratiate the Gospel, or ourselves, by trying to conform it to modern preferences or practices. The Faith we profess and proclaim is God’s great blessing for mankind; the gift of the Spirit through faith in Jesus as the Father’s Son, is the supreme expression, and only authentic channel, of God’s uniquely saving love for men and women of all times.
Therefore I encourage you, today, to have confidence in God and your own calling: confidence in the wisdom enshrined in the Faith proclaimed by Mother Church throughout the ages, confidence in the power of His Word to which you witness, confidence in His goodness and care that will, if you look trustfully to Him, be with you all the way in your Catholic and Christian endeavours.  We must seek to please one only, God; and we can only please Him if, first of all, we trust Him, and have full  confidence in Him.  Then, under the inspiration of the  Spirit of Jesus, we have to go forward in trust and confidence, and work in accordance with the word of Jesus, seeking the Father‘s glory and the good of souls.  And if, at times, because of our sinfulness and failings, we may have to try to curb or correct our personal character and attitudes in order to help our neighbours hear and recognise the Gospel of Christ, we must never think that the Good News of Christ which is ours in the Faith, needs to be ingratiatingly adapted to what others may want.  
Bring to light (for all) what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God Who created all things, that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.  This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him. (Ephesians 3:10-13)    (2012)