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.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Saints Peter and Paul 2013


(Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11; 2nd. Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19)

Peter and Paul have always been the pride of the Church at Rome, where both of them died for Christ after having openly proclaimed His Gospel there, in what was the then centre of the whole world.

We learnt, from the second reading, with what good reason the Church at Rome could glory in St. Paul, when he was able to declare near the end of his life:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 

The Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. 

Paul was both deeply learned and extremely courageous: he could dispute with any adversary of Christ; and was quite prepared to endure bodily privations and dangers, as well as sustain all the physical assaults of his enemies:

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:12)

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the        city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)

Having heard the Gospel proclaimed and expounded to them by an Apostle able to give and willing to suffer so much in order to bring them the authentic Good News of Christ, the Christians at Rome were not only privileged to have received the offer of salvation, but also understandably proud of the messenger who after having so fully, faithfully, and fearlessly proclaimed it to them, finally sealed his witness by suffering martyrdom in their midst.
The glory and significance of Peter for Rome and the Church as a whole, however, is of another sort.  He would, like Paul, win the crown of martyrdom for Jesus and the Gospel at Rome. However, the real glory and significance of Peter lay in the fact that he had been uniquely and most sublimely chosen: first by the Father to proclaim Jesus as the Christ, and then by Jesus to receive the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and supreme authority in the Church of Christ on earth....

Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Jesus answered and said to him: ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Later on, Jesus confirmed Peter as the rock for His Church saying:

I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.         (Luke 22:32)

However, Jesus’ ultimate and possibly His most solemn deployment and confirmation of Peter as supreme shepherd for the Church occurred when Our Lord, after His Resurrection, appeared by the Sea of Tiberius to Peter and six other disciples as they were fishing.  Jesus gave them a wondrous catch of fish, foreshadowing their future mission and work in and for the Church He was committing to them; moreover, He had made preparations for breakfast after they had managed to land their catch.  And then, in front of them all:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter (notice the solemn use of his full name), ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’  He said to Him, ‘Yes Lord, You know that I love you.’  He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’  (John 21: 15-17)

This was repeated for a second and for a third time, thus comprising what a modern scholar has described as, according to ancient oriental custom, a most solemn conferral of absolutely valid authority. 

Why did the Father choose Peter first of all?  We do not know.  But Jesus recognized, accepted and confirmed His Father’s choice; and so, Peter, though we know of no mystical experiences like that of Paul, nevertheless he is for us, essentially, the man of mystery and grace: specially chosen by the Father to recognize Jesus first of all as the Christ of God and love Him more than all as the Son of Man; and then by Jesus Himself to serve as the earthly rock of His Church and chief shepherd of His people.  

Paul was outstanding for his wisdom and understanding (2 Corinthians 11:5):

I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles; 

while in his tireless endeavours and great sufferings for Christ he was incomparable:

I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most   eminent apostles, though I am nothing.  Truly the signs of an apostle were            accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. (2 Corinthians 12:11-12)

There can be no doubt that St. Paul was, and remains, the most profound and dynamic man of Christian understanding and apostolic endeavour the Church has ever known. 
But that is not the whole of Paul, for he tells us of his sublime mystical experience:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast except in my infirmities. (2 Corinthians 12:2)

The leading Churches in the burgeoning universal Church gloried in those apostles and evangelists they regarded as founding fathers, or martyrs, in their midst: Alexandria rejoiced in Mark the evangelist and disciple of Peter, Ephesus in John, James the Less was the pride of Jerusalem, while Constantinople tried unsuccessfully to claim St. Andrew.  Therefore today, People of God, we rightly rejoice with the Church at Rome, our Mother Church and head of the Universal Catholic Church; we rejoice in Peter and Paul, both great apostles of Rome: one, the foundation Rock of the Church, the other, Doctor of the nations.   In Peter and Paul we can see both aspects of the life of Mother Church -- the active and the mystic -- distinct but not separated, each complementary to and provocative of the other.  Moreover, behind, over-and-above so to speak, the human personalities of Peter and Paul, we recognize the divine consortium manifested at the very origins of the Church of Rome: the Father who had first chosen Peter; the Son Who appointed and commissioned both Peter and Paul; and the Holy Spirit Who called Paul from the church at Antioch to go forth and preach the Gospel before the Emperor in Rome and to all nations.

St. Irenaeus, martyr bishop of Lyons, who had been brought up under the influence of St. Polycarp, himself a disciple of St. John the apostle, bears witness to the early standing of the church of Rome in the Universal Catholic Church:

The apostolic tradition and faith announced to mankind has been brought down to our time by successions of bishops in the greatest, most ancient and well-known church, founded and established by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, at Rome... With this church, because of its more powerful pre-eminence, all other churches in all other places must be in agreement, since in it Christians of all places have the apostolic tradition preserved.

Today, therefore, let us recall and put into practice the words of the Psalmist:

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to the name of the Most High. (Psalm 92:1-2)  

On this great feast, however, let us not forget that we do not just celebrate the wondrous vocations of two great apostles, we celebrate Mother Church herself, and, above all, we give thanks for and rejoice in the Gift of God’s Spirit, Who first established, and now sustains and guides, her.  

One noted Catholic biblical scholar recently asked himself, in a Catholic newspaper, ‘What really happened at Gethsemane?  How do we know the words of Jesus’ prayer?’  And he came up with the answer: ‘(The disciples) made it up!’   They projected onto Jesus – so he tells us -- the emotions that they imagined they themselves would have experienced had they suddenly realised their death by torture was imminent.  Moreover, our author’s research also led him to come up with the idea that one of Mark’s sources told of Jesus having a ‘brief nervous breakdown’:  ‘When realising the imminence of his own demise, Jesus was deeply distraught and troubled, out of control.’

What are we to think of such ‘scholarship’ above all what are we to think about such supposedly catholic scholarship’?   

Let us look closely at our Catholic faith.  Jesus said quite clearly (John 16:13):

When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come He will guide you into all truth.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine.  

Our author seems to disregard truth in favour of words: he wants a verbatim report of any and all words used!  Jesus went three times to pray alone to His Father during His agony in the Garden.  Why?  Surely to lay before His Father His human agony, so that, with His Father’s grace and blessing, He might understand, then master and make use of such emotions for His Father’s glory and our salvation:  Father, not My will, but Yours be done.  Did the Father just let Him suffer a nervous breakdown?  Since the Son of God could not -- so we are told -- face up to His, admittedly immense, earthly trials, how then can ordinary weak and sinful human beings of today be expected to endure, let alone overcome, their life-troubles and spirit-trials? 
The Holy Spirit infallibly guides Mother Church into all truth, Jesus says …. Surely such truth is necessary and required above all for the Gospel proclamation of Our Blessed Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection!  Our author can himself imagine and proudly proclaim what he thinks did or did not happen in the Garden, but the Evangelists ... one of whom, John, was close at hand, and, on being awakened by Jesus just come from the Garden, was addressed by Him minutes after the event … are reduced to pure ‘imagination’ as to what had just happened to their Lord and Saviour!  Did Jesus’ general bearing, His eyes, His face, speak nothing?  Did those disciples ask Him nothing?  Or if they did ask Him,  did He manage to answer them absolutely nothing, so that they had not the slightest inkling about His traumatic experience, and were left with only their individual imaginations about what they themselves might have felt if….
Our author wanted words, a verbatim account, without which -- according to him -- what we have in the Gospel are merely the unsubstantial imaginations of evangelists; which, of course, cannot be compared with his own scholarly fancies!

Mother Church believes Jesus’ word and promise that we have Gospel TRUTH; truth -- concerning Jesus’ prayer and suffering in the Garden -- that was probably learned by Mark from Peter who was close to Our Lord at the time and was most passionately and lovingly concerned about such truth; truth that was gathered by John from his own personal experience and by what he learned from Mary -- now his mother living in his own house with him -- after long, intimate, discussions together about what had happened to and with their beloved Lord, her Son.   In other words, I believe, not a proud old man carried away with his own scholarly intuitions, imaginations, and vanities, but a Spirit-guided Church; I believe the truth, expressed and written down under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit Who, on the day of Pentecost, established our Catholic Church and still, most assuredly guides her to, and confirms her in, all TRUTH, as Jesus Himself promised and as Mother Church teaches.  

Saturday, 22 June 2013

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) 2013

 12th. Sunday of Year (C)

(Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24)

The events mentioned in today’s Gospel reading are but vaguely introduced by St. Luke who simply says:

            Once, when Jesus was praying ...

What could possibly be more vague than that if one is looking for some locality in which to situate and better understand the subsequent events!   But that is the point, Luke does not particularly want to inform us where Jesus was at that time; he wishes above all to draw our attention to the fact of Jesus’ prayer which is most important for Luke who regularly takes care to highlight its divine potential and to outline the sublimely mysterious aura associated with it.  And in that he was absolutely correct because such prayer was the very essence of Jesus’ life and mission here on earth:

My doctrine is not Mine but His who sent Me.  I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him....... The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.  (John 7:16; 8:26, 29)  

In our first reading taken from the prophet Zechariah the Lord God said:

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition;

and that prophecy received its ultimate fulfilment with the coming of God’s Son on earth -- born of Mary of the house of David -- to live among God’s People, to serve God’s redeeming purpose.  And it could well have been that the prayer of Jesus at this very moment picked out by St. Luke was indeed prayer for a spirit  of grace and petition to be given God’s People and, most especially, to be bestowed on the  twelve Apostles with Him on this occasion; for, turning to them He said:

Who do the crowds say that I am?’  They said in reply, ‘John the Baptist; others Elijah; still others, One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’  He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Peter said in reply, ‘The Christ of God.’

The divine potential and power of Jesus’ prayer, having been thereby demonstrated by those words of Peter, was openly acknowledged and proclaimed by Jesus when -- according to St. Matthew’s account – He said that Peter’s answer was indeed a most gracious gift from His Father:

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.  (Matthew 16:17)

Knowing, or rather, believing now that Jesus was the Christ of God, Peter and the disciples were feeling a confidence and trust similar to that of which St. Paul speaks in his letter to the Romans (8:31):

            If God is for us, who can be against us?  

For, as it would seem from scholars’ endeavours to ‘calibrate’ Jesus’ life on earth,  the Twelve disciples had recently witnessed and experienced most wonderful manifestations of their Lord’s power and of the authenticity of His mission.  They themselves had been sent out by Him to proclaim the kingdom of God with power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases; and the success of their mission had set all the people talking about Jesus, and had even drawn Herod Antipas’ attention: Who is this about whom I hear such things?  Indeed, so interested or concerned had Herod become that he even tried to meet Jesus.  The Apostles, again, had recently seen Jesus multiply bread (5 loaves and 2 fish) to feed more than 5,000 persons; He had walked on water before their very eyes and  had performed miraculous healings for many individuals; and then, they had witnessed yet another miraculous feeding of a multitude, this time some 4,000 people being nourished and sustained at His bidding.  Peter’s words confessing Jesus as the Christ of God expressed the exuberant feelings of all of the Apostles, He was the Christ, the Messiah!

The disciples having thus been both enlightened and confirmed in their faith in Him, Jesus was next able to proceed immediately -- but not without a vigorous admonition (He rebuked!) -- to tell them what was soon to happen to Him:

He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.  He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Once again, with such words, He mysteriously fulfilled what the prophet had foretold:

They shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a first-born.

Had the apostles, however, rightly understood the exact meaning and significance of what Peter had been inspired to say?  

            You are the Christ of God!

The only other words that give us the same meaning are also to be found in St. Luke, in his account of the presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple by Mary.  There St. Luke (2:26) says of Simeon, the priest who took the Child in his arms:

It had been revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the LORD’S CHRIST. 

The Christ, the Messiah, were expressions frequently used when speaking of the hopes of the devout in Jewish society who were longing for the advent of God’s salvation; ‘the Christ’, ‘the Son of God’, are other expressions readily to hand in our New Testament scriptures; but the expressions, ‘The Christ of God’ and its equivalent, ‘The Lord’s Christ’, stand alone and as one in their perfect clarity.   Jesus, Who at the inauguration of His Public Ministry had had to rebuff the Devil’s temptations on this issue, was most desirous now that His apostles should be able to recognize and believe in Him as the Christ of God, the Saviour sent by God, and not allow themselves to be led astray by any subsequent endeavours of Satan to derail His work that would continue through their proclamation of His Gospel.   They had to know Him truly, and unshakeably believe in Him, not simply as the Christ  – subject to human misinterpretation -- but as:

            The Christ of God!  The Lord’s Christ!

How truly wonderful it is that here we can recognize the most beautiful harmony evidenced by Jesus’ ardent prayer for a spirit of grace and petition on behalf of His apostles, by His Father’s words of inspiration bestowed on Peter, and by the promise of the Holy Spirit given to Simeon of old!!

That the apostles might be enabled and prepared to proclaim, not the Messiah of popular expectation, but the Christ of salvation, Jesus sought to impress upon their minds and fix in their memories – He rebuked them – the truth and the hope they would have to demonstrate and promote in the face of excesses of both exuberance and depression:

The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.

Then, to show clearly that He was warning against, and warding off, all popular conceptions of the Christ, the Saviour, to come:

He said to ALL (those around), ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.’

People of God, St. Luke wants to help us recognize the sublime secret of Jesus … communion with, prayer to and trust in, His Father is always an occasion of supreme blessing ... and we, His present-day disciples, must appreciate that without in like manner ourselves turning confidently to the Father, without such prayer and communion with Him, we can never come to a personal knowledge of Jesus our Lord, nor ever be able to truly embrace and further His will to save us and all mankind.   And, as we consider Jesus’ experience on the Cross and are struck by His great silence, we are led to a realization that prayer to His Father was the ultimate medium for Jesus’ self-expression and self-fulfilment, and that it was the root of His Being during those hours of total torment.  Consequently, our personal conformity to and enduring union with Him can surely find its due measure of fullness and authenticity only to the extent in which we are willing to embrace our own measure of sufferings in His way:

I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. … knowing Him …. and sharing His sufferings by being conformed to His death,  if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  (Philippians 3:8-11)


Friday, 14 June 2013

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C 2013

11th. Sunday, Year C

(2 Samuel 12: 7-10, 13; Galatians 2: 16, 19-21; Luke 7: 36-50.)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we have a very difficult passage from St. Paul in our second reading today:

We know that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ; through the Law I died to the Law that I might live for God.

What does Paul mean when he says, through the Law I died to the Law?  How did he, through the Law die to the Law?

Much has been written over many years by scholars of varying persuasions and abilities, and so I cannot pretend to offer a solution to the many difficulties they find in those words; but for all that, I will offer a suggestion that is both relative to the passage and, I trust, helpful for our understanding and appreciation of our Gospel today.
St. Paul was a great lover and proponent of the Law as understood by the Pharisees before he encountered the Risen Lord Jesus in a vision on his way to Damascus to persecute the Church of God out of zeal for the traditions of his ancestors in Judaism (cf. Galatians 1: 13s.).  He never lost his love for the Law, but after that encounter with the risen Lord Jesus he came to understand it much better as God’s instrument for the preparation of His People for the salvation He was offering them in and through the Lord Jesus, the long promised and ardently expected Messiah
If it had not been for the Law, I would not have known sin. We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh ... I do the very thing I hate. ... I delight in the Law of God in my inmost self, with my mind I am a slave to the Law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. Wretched man that I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?   Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  (Romans 7: 7, 14- 15, 22, 24-25)

All, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written, there is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.   (Romans 3: 9-12, 23.)

We asked how did Paul through the Law die to the Law?  It is clear now that Paul’s knowledge of the Law taught him what was required of him as a convinced Israelite and subject of the Law, while Paul’s deep self-awareness and great insight into our human condition also made it most abundantly clear to him that none did, and none could, keep the Law in all its fullness and integrity. 

All who rely on the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the Law.’ (Galatians 3:10)

Why then the Law?  It was added because of transgressions, until the Offspring would come to whom the promise had been made. The Law was our disciplinarian until Christ came so that we might be justified by faith.  (Gal. 3:19, 24)

As we now look into the Gospel reading we will see that Simon, the Pharisee, had little of Paul’s self-knowledge or commitment to the Law: the proprieties expected when receiving guests were either ignored in Jesus’ case or else had been forgotten by, or were, perhaps, even unknown to, Simon; and how easily his solicitude for the reputation of his house caused him to start criticising, in his heart, the young Rabbi whom he had admiringly and respectfully invited to share his table:

If this man were a prophet, He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him!  

Of course it was extremely embarrassing for Simon reclining at table with Jesus, as indeed it must have been for the others sharing hospitality, when a woman, publicly known for her sins, entered his house – not only uninvited but  also most certainly unwelcome – and, standing behind Jesus weeping profusely, began to:

Bathe His feet with her tears, wipe them with her hair, kiss them, and anoint them with ointment.

Nevertheless, how quickly his professed reverence for one he called ‘Teacher’ evaporated in the face of this threat to his own self-esteem and presumed public standing:  If this man were a prophet ... !!    Jesus, however, loved Simon and came to his help for, before Simon could actually say anything at all:

            Jesus said to him IN REPLY, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you ....’

Simon, as we have said, had little in common with Paul, but the sinful woman – as regards her response to Jesus – resembled Paul very much in his profound appreciation of, and total self-abandonment to, Jesus.

Paul gave himself to Jesus -- in response to a personal vision and ‘mystical’ encounter with the Risen Lord -- most humbly, lovingly, and unreservedly, on the basis of his profound understanding and appreciation of God’s revelation in the Scriptures entrusted to Israel’s custody for fulfilment: how penetratingly he recognized his need of the redeeming grace of Jesus, his Lord and Saviour!  The woman, most certainly had encountered and heard Jesus previously, perhaps only once, possibly a few times, because she came to Him as one loathing herself for love of His Goodness.

Paul learned his self-distrust from the Scriptures and from his vision of the Risen Lord; the woman embraced her self-loathing, it would seem, simply from encountering and learning from the man, Jesus of Nazareth, as He walked and talked in the course of His public ministry.  In her respect we can fruitfully recall some teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas who used to say that a unlettered peasant could know God better than he himself, intuitively, that is, by the heart; because knowledge of God does not end in, is not fulfilled in, concepts but reality.  A theologian weighed down with concepts, though they be correct, can remain cut off from the Reality, while an ‘ignorant’ person can reach that Reality better, thanks to the transparency of more elementary concepts.   

Does not the Psalmist express himself in very similar words?

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. (Psalm 51:5-6)

The woman loved the Lord and suffered deeply from the open scorn and contempt she received when she tried to draw near to Him; and Paul’s very vocation as a Christian was to suffer – more than any other apostle – for his love of the Lord:

The Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring My name before Gentiles and kings and before the People of Israel; I Myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My name.  (Acts 9: 15s.)

For both of them, however, faith was the crown of their relationship with, and consummated their love for, Jesus:

Insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who has loved me and given Himself up for me.

Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love; the one to whom little is forgiven loves little.  He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you, go in peace.’

There are religious groups today, however, who gain followers or recruit supporters by offering them someone, something, to hate and/or violently oppose; offering the exaltation and satisfaction of humanly disordered emotions as the fulfilment of a pseudo-religious involvement and the earthly foretaste of a promised and equally pseudo heavenly reward.  The world around us also proclaims earthly emotional experience and satisfaction – never openly hateful, indeed, but not without deep-rooted intolerance -- as the only worthwhile and publicly acceptable ideal and reward ... love is all!!   Love, that is, which is to be felt and enjoyed, not to be evaluated and most certainly not to be constrained, by any other considerations other than the human, earthly satisfaction it affords the individuals concerned and the approval it gains them from others.  Catholicism, on the other hand, offers -- supremely and solely -- the Truth of Jesus which evokes a response of unique Love that can only be truly expressed through and fulfilled in Faith.

Jesus once used most solemn words that bring out in total clarity the deepest and most extensive problem and need in the Church today: lack of Faith in the face of the emotional attractions of religious extremism and self-approval and self-satisfaction of comfortable worldly conformity:

            When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?

Dear Brothers and Sisters, we should treasure and try to develop our personal Faith in Jesus and commitment to His Church with heartfelt gratitude and serious endeavour, and pray devoutly for the growth of Faith in Mother Church and for God’s special blessing on all called to proclaim and propagate that Faith throughout the world.  Towards that end let us cast a final glance at King David in our first reading today, for he can make clear to us another most beautiful characteristic of faith.

Nathan said to David: ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in His sight?  ... Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house because you have despised Me and taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.”’  Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

There we can see the beauty of faith in David.  He had an ‘intuitive’ relationship with God like that of the sinful woman with regard to Jesus in our Gospel reading; he was weak at times indeed, but he did not seek to justify his behaviour before God’s judgement:  I have sinned against the Lord!  The extremists of today would say to any such words of judgement against them or their actions, ‘We were forced to, we had no choice but to, behave, respond, as we did’; whilst the world of human righteousness and political conformity would most probably not be able to understand any such words against their works or policies: ‘This world’s love guided us in all that we did or sought to do.’  Before God and the truth, David was totally simple, with no complications of pride, no refuge in self-justification.  His example is most worthy of our admiration and imitation.