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, 26 March 2016

Easter Sunday 2016

Easter Sunday 2016
(Acts 10:34, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9)

On this Easter morning we are gathered to rejoice in the Lord for the glory and beauty of His triumph over sin and death and for the wondrous salvation He has thereby won for us.

If we look back to our origins we can learn there something of the true significance of what, at first glance, would appear to have been the utter degradation and revolting ugliness of Our Lord’s sufferings and death on Calvary.

God had been wonderfully good to us at our creation: making, forming, us in His own image and likeness, to rule over all that He had made in a way that would give glory to His most holy Name and provide for all our needs.   There was, therefore, a close bond of friendship between God and our forebears, and indeed, He even used to walk in the garden of Eden conversing with them:

The Lord God (was) walking in the garden in the cool of the day (and) called out to the man

There had been only one restriction to Adam’s total freedom in the garden, and that had been established when God had told him:

You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die. (cf. Genesis 2:15 seq.)

Notice first of all, People of God, that ‘knowledge of’ means real, ‘physical and full knowledge’ not merely ‘theoretical awareness, philosophical knowledge of’.  Therefore the prohibition was made by God because such fruit would actually be harmful to Adam … ‘eat of it and you shall surely die’, not immediately and out of petulant anger, but most surely: for one who turns away or aside from God, by that very fact, cannot share immortality, which is essentially divine, with God.
Adam’s appreciation of God’s goodness was in no way diminished by that warning since there was nothing whatsoever in the Garden which called for Adam to have such knowledge of evil nor was there any good being withheld from him by God, for Adam was urged to cultivate and care for the garden in every respect.  Indeed, we learn next how harmonious and lovingly considerate was God’s relationship with Adam, for we are told that God, having taken careful note of Adam’s situation, decided:

It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suited to him; and while (Adam) was asleep (God) took one of his ribs and built the rib into a woman.  When He brought her to the man, the man said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman’ for out of man this one has been taken.”  (cf. Gen. 2:18-23)

Thus there was indeed joy and closeness between Adam and God out of which Eve was herself formed.

However, the Serpent managed to poison Eve’s mind by insinuating that God’s command forbidding them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had been made not out of love for them but out of His own oppressive authoritarianism, and thus the nature of the bond between God and the couple He had created became disturbed before being ultimately determined by the issue of obedience: for Adam, weakly opting to go along with Eve in disobedience to God’s warning/command, thereby inevitably lost his participation in God’s immortality and became subject to death and suffering.

That, dear People of God, is why Jesus declared so very frequently that He had come among men not to do His own will but the will of Him Who had sent Him:

                My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.

                I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.

I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38)

Jesus made many more such assertions so that we might most surely recognize the root of our human sinfulness and suffering.

Thus, there are two most important points for all disciples of Jesus to appreciate from the very beginning: first of all, there can be no true love for God in one subject to disobedience; disobedience is the root of all our evils and of our alienation from God; we cannot ‘pick and choose’ with obedience and disobedience before God.   Secondly, the obedience we owe to God can never rightly be cold or automatic, for that is a betrayal of its original and most authentic nature … for obedience is essentially the supreme expression of truly human and child-like love for, and total confidence in, God our Father.

Now, bearing in mind what we have learnt about our origins, let us look for the glory and the beauty of Our Lord’s obedient Passion, Death, and Resurrection brought about on Jerusalem’s mount of ignominy, Calvary.

We were told in our reading from the Acts of the Apostles that:

                They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.

How wonderfully beautiful!!   The beautiful fruit of God’s good tree in Eden – which, with the Serpent’s deception of sensuous Eve and exploitation of Adam’s weakness, had become a stone of stumbling, is now totally transformed by Jesus’ obedient self-sacrifice into the life-enhancing, life-enriching, life-fulfilling, fruit of divine bounty which is offered to us in the Eucharist!! Supremely desirable indeed for the gaining of wisdom; not mere knowledge of good and evil, but wisdom sublime and divine; a transformation symbolized, most beautifully for us disciples of Jesus, no longer by a snake pierced through and lifted up high on a pole as under Moses, but by God’s most beautiful fruit hanging on a tree.

What delight in His Father, what love for us, enabled Jesus to hold His head high throughout those atrocious torments on the Cross?  Of that we are told in the Psalter:

Blessed is the man (whose) delight is in the law (the command) of the Lord … He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. (Psalm 1:2-3)

Later we read (Ps. 110:5, 7.):

The Lord says to my Lord sit at My right hand while I make your enemies your footstool. … At your right hand is the Lord Who crushes kings on the day of His wrath, Who judges nations (yes, Father, for Jesus always does what pleases You) ... Who drinks from the brook by the wayside (signifying Your Gift of the Holy Spirit); and thus, (like the tree planted by streams of water) holds high His head. 

owHoHHow wonderful!!

                They put such a man to death by hanging Him upon a tree

where He was destined to become the fruit of salvation, the fruit of Calvary, not to be sneakily grasped at the serpent’s suggestion, but meant, by the Father Himself, to be taken and received with faith and humble Eucharistic gratitude:

Take this, all of you, and eat it, this is My (Son’s) Body which will be given up for you.

When the serpent deceived Eve he had promised her that:

When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods, who know both good and evil.

Our blessed Lord and Saviour, on the other hand, opens our eyes to the full truth of our situation when He offers us the strength of His grace together with a call to repent, warning us that only those who humbly believe in Him and in His Father’s merciful goodness will be able to receive with profit the full fruit of His sacrifice and the wisdom of His Most Holy Spirit.

People of God, today we should rejoice!   Rejoice in God’s infinitely beautiful wisdom that extends throughout all ages and shapes all our destinies; rejoice in His omnipotent and universal might, that manifests itself in a Son willing to suffer the loss of all in order to conquer sin and to save His Father’s chosen ones; rejoice in the goodness of Him Who knows no evil and suffers no evil, and Who -- in His only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ and by His Most Holy Spirit -- is become our Light and Life, our Joy and Peace, uniquely able to transform all evils to His greater glory and our eternal salvation.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Palm Sunday Year C 2016

Palm Sunday (C)   
 (Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14 – 23:56)

We are gathered together here in solemn preparation for the Easter Passover of Our Lord Jesus Christ and, having heard St. Luke’s account of our Lord’s Passion and Death, we have been struck by the horror of His most bitter sufferings and left both humbled and amazed by His patient endurance: embracing the Cross in steadfast love for us, and with absolute trust in, and self-commitment to, the Father Who had sent Him; which is why we recognize Him as the Suffering Servant prophesied of old, and as the only-begotten, well-pleasing, Son of God, most fittingly at rest in the peace and power of His total gift of self in transcendent Love:
            Father, into your hands I commend My spirit.
The Gospel is a light of revelation for us: revealing the beauty and goodness, the majesty and power, of God in Himself and in His relations with us; and also the truth about ourselves in our present state with God and our future prospects before Him. Therefore, having greatly admired Jesus’ revelation of God in His Passion and death, let us now -- as His aspiring disciples -- search for truth about ourselves, by confronting our Christian self-awareness and personal conscience as honestly and dispassionately as we can.
Did we, perhaps, find that Gospel reading rather long and -- at times -- a little wearisome?   If so, that can only be a humbling and somewhat depressing acknowledgement, in so far as we tend to think that if we were proper Catholics, true disciples, we would not just hear of His holy Passion and Death, but would experience, go through, it with hearts filled with deep sorrow and ardent longing; and we vaguely suspect and fear that such lack of emotional involvement might betray some hidden fault or serious failing in us.
Let us, therefore, take a closer look at that unwanted weariness which can obtrude itself upon us at times when we would much prefer to experience fervent devotion.
First of all, we should be clear in our minds that we are here at Mass, above all, not to get emotions for ourselves but to give ourselves, through devotion, to God.  Those words, ‘I don't seem to be getting anything out of it’ should never be part our thinking.  We also need to be clear in our minds about the difference between emotions and devotion; for they are not the same, nor are they necessarily found together.  Emotions express and affect our natural feelings, whereas devotion is the sign and measure of our supernatural commitment; moreover, our emotions are largely instinctive and self-centred whereas devotion is subject to our will and centred on God.  Devotion does indeed benefit greatly when it is backed-up by the power of appropriate emotions; however, devotion is not essentially diminished by the absence of such emotions, and indeed can be at its greatest when deprived of them.  Emotion, alone, is of no worth, its function is to assist what is more worthy than itself, whereas devotion is, in itself, always supremely commendable before God.
Dear People of God, it is essential for us to recognize ever more clearly and appreciate ever more deeply that we are sinners and God alone is good; and, because He is so sublimely good to sinners like us we can also call Him whole-and-humble-heartedly the All-holy One.  All the blessings we have received in our life, all the ‘goods’ that we have or can have, are His gifts to us: ‘goods’ created for us, benefitting and adorning us.  Likewise, all the Christian holiness we might admire, to which we might aspire or long for, is again His gift.  But far, far more, is it a gift of Himself, a share in His very own, unique, holiness: it never is, nor ever can be, our own holiness, something we can put on, something owing to us, or something that we can get for ourselves, achieve by ourselves, design for ourselves.  Therefore, we must never be surprised at our possible weariness, dryness, or lack of emotional feelings, on occasions like today; for that is a true, indeed it is the truest picture of us, for we are -- of ourselves -- naturally barren and fruitless as far as holiness is concerned.
Nevertheless, as Christians our attention and expectations are most joyfully centred on God, for He is so good, so inconceivably good indeed, that He has given His own Son to save us from our sinfulness, and in return for such a gift we have to try to do what the Suffering Servant, in the first reading, showed us, for:
Morning after morning He wakens my ear to hear as disciples do; the Lord God opened my ear, I did not refuse, did not turn away.
Jesus was always lovingly in His Father’s presence, attentively watching for, listening to, and ever ready to do, His will; and we can best imitate that by repeatedly putting ourselves in the presence of God, putting ourselves in the way -- so to speak -- of Jesus.  And that, indeed, is what we are doing here, today: we have learned where Jesus is to be found and have come to put ourselves in His way, waiting and listening in case He should turn His gaze, see us, and choose to speak to us as He did to blind Bartimaeus.  If He does not, we should have no complaint, it is His will and we have no claims on Him: whatever He does, we know that He does it for our good and that He is right.  If, on the other hand, He does turn His attention our way, then we should gratefully accept the ardent emotions His glance stirs within us and use them as a spur to our devotion, endeavouring thereby to give ourselves back, in the Spirit, to Jesus and to God our Father more completely and more wholeheartedly than ever before.  In that way, our emotions can, at times, renew our spirit and spur us on to greater devotion; for ultimately, it is only the enduring power and commitment of devotion that faithfully and perseveringly follows Jesus along His heavenward path.
Our emotions can also be like flowers along the way that afford our spirit refreshment as we pass, gratefully, on.  At other times, however, and perhaps more frequently, emotions can disturb and hinder us like stones that clutter our path; indeed, they can even -- and most deceitfully -- serve as honey-traps that would attach us to themselves and lead us to forget the way we have hitherto been pursuing, ignore the promise Jesus has made to us, and no longer aspire to the place He has been preparing for us in the home to which the Father calls us.