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, 27 September 2019

26th Sunday Year C 2019

 26th.Sunday (Year C)
(Amos 6: 1, 4-7; 1 Timothy 6: 11-16; Luke 16: 19-31)

The rich man – let us give him the traditional name Dives which is simply Latin for ‘rich’ – was a family man who, at the last instance, cared about his brothers; nevertheless, he was in hell because during his lifetime he had cared  about no one else.  He could have helped Lazarus in his most dire need, but did not do so; perhaps he ignored Lazarus because he was unaware of him, being totally wrapped up in himself and his present enjoyment of pleasure and plenty, and perhaps with an extra comforting anticipation of more of the same to come in the future; if so, that would have greatly increased his guilt.

However, Dives’ lack of fraternal charity is not the point I wish to dwell on today, for I think the answer Abraham gave to Dives’ concern for his brothers in Jesus’ parable has much that can be of profit to us who are seeking to become better disciples of Jesus.

If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.

We should recognize that Jesus is speaking though Abraham’s name is used in the parable; and so, the ‘someone rising from the dead’ refers ultimately to Jesus Himself; and thus, the parable gives us a remarkable instance of the continuity between the old and the new in God’s dealings with His chosen people.

Moses and the Prophets were sent to the Chosen People of Israel to help them recognize their sinfulness by the offer of worldly salvation from slavery in Egypt, and then, through subsequent ages, from the belligerent opposition and persecutions of surrounding nations and ‘world’ powers – an offer subject only to their faithful response to the formative justice of God’s Law in their personal behaviour and the structuring of their society. 

However, their ever-recurring reluctance, and at times blatant refusal, to acknowledge and amend their own sinful ways despite the Lord’s mighty saving-deeds and paternal awareness expressed in the words of His chosen prophets, could only lead ultimately to their conviction by God,  as was indeed foreshadowed by the frustration shown by  some of those prophets beginning as early as Moses himself.

Jesus, however, came – was sent by His Father, Israel’s God -- not to convict but to save; and, as Man and Messiah, He chose Twelve Apostles, inspiring and empowering them by the holiness of His Own Person and the beauty, Wisdom, and Truth, of His Good News, and endowing them with the power of His most Holy Spirit, to help Him convert His People to appreciate, love, and embrace repentance for their sins, as did Peter himself, chief of those Apostles when, on making a remarkable catch of fish in obedience to Jesus’ word (Luke 5:8):

            Fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.’

Thus, humbled and repentant, the Chosen People were to find, in their heavenly Father’s home, an eternal salvation won for them by the power of Jesus’ self-sacrificing love embracing His Father, His Chosen People, and all men of good will.

‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets’ ... that is, in so far as they were not willing to accept the fact of their own sinfulness as witnessed by and testified to by their own ‘pride and joy’ Moses and the Prophets:

neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.

Notice that word, SOMEONE, dear People of God, because that is what the one ‘sent by God’ -- Jesus’ most frequently used self-appelation -- would be known generally: someone, personally unknown and unacknowledged, someone, unappreciated by, and ultimately unacceptable to, the majority of those He had come, He had been sent, to call to salvation by words such as:

            Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,

as proclaimed by John the Baptist, and:

The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the Gospel,

as proclaimed by Jesus Himself.

How could they therefore -- as a wilfully sinful people despite all the words that Moses and the Prophets had spoken to them from God --  possibly accept even the most loving invitation and call of Jesus, a self-sacrificingly obedient Son of God made Man; One willingly accepting to die, for their sins, on their behalf, before taking up His life again in accordance with His Father’s command?

Neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.

However, Paul of Tarsus, was one Israelite who most certainly regarded Jesus as much more than a mere ‘someone’!  As a most ardent and learned Pharisee he had originally actively hated Jesus and persecuted His followers, until a heavenly visitation and subsequent Christian instruction, followed by years of loving contemplation of that holy teaching, changed him into the Apostle of the Gentiles who only once in our records of him totally let down his guard and spoke of himself and Jesus with total and self-less candour (Galatians 2:20):


The history of Mother Church is replete with many who have sought easy ways to develop a special relationship with Jesus, many trying to latch onto extraordinary ‘spiritual’ happenings: something out of the ordinary, something they could talk about and perhaps lead or induce others to seek to experience also.  That is how so many of the religious sects which abound in the world today first began.  Finding the traditional Church too boring, having too little emotion and too much formality, being too institutionalised, or whatever the fault or the criticism might have been, they sought new and ‘spiritual’ experiences outside the Church.  And then that sect, in its turn, became, inevitably, more of an institution, with greater organization and less spontaneity in the eyes of critics, who were dissatisfied thereat and once more went off, on their own, in search of, or following after, more exciting and engaging personal experiences; and soon, another sect, an offshoot this time from a previous sect, was born.  There are literally hundreds and possibly thousands of such Christian sects (and no doubt Muslim, Hindu etc. sects) in the world today. 

Therefore, one might say, perhaps, that the indifference of the many who refused, or merely failed, to listen to Moses and the Prophets in old Israel, and of the many ‘nominal only’ Catholics and Christians in the world today, is really the manifestation of perennial and pervading dissatisfaction: not simply with religion, but also with whatever can be considered as institutionalised; indeed, as dissatisfaction with life itself, as witnessed by the increasingly frequent suicides of rich as well as poor, couples as well as individuals.

Dissatisfaction, however, can be found a great blessing rather than a great temptation or subtle sickness; but, if it is to turn out as God’s work, the true nature of such dissatisfaction must be closely observed and humbly recognized.  Dissatisfaction with oneself can be the source of untold blessings from God , whereas dissatisfaction directed against the Church and ones’ brothers and sisters in the Faith is the devil’s work; dissatisfaction with ‘institutions’ benotes anarchists and ‘wild-ones’, dissatisfaction with life itself can denote incipient or rampant sickness, unless it is the result of sufferings endured but not  humbly accepted or positively embraced.

God-given dissatisfaction with one’s own self in the Church, whilst recognizing that the Church herself is God’s gift, guided and protected by His Spirit, can force us to seek to delve deeper into that Spirit-guided teaching which the Church proclaims, it can constrain us to approach more seriously and sincerely the Sacraments whereby the Spirit flows into our lives, and in so doing it can lead us to change our own attitudes, overcome our own lassitude and half-heartedness, and gradually enable us to see more and more of the true beauty and glory of God’s wisdom in the world He created and in Mother Church’s teaching;  and thus it can develop an increasing awareness of the presence and power of the Spirit Who alone can raise us up to more intimate life in and with Christ.

In the Church we have indeed Moses and the Prophets, but we have more, much more: we have Jesus, the Christ, and the beloved, only-begotten, Son of God, Who, through His Apostles and in the power of His Holy Spirit, still speaks to us today.  If we do not listen to Him and learn from His Spirit, no miracle, no extraordinary ‘spiritual’ experience can be of any help.

Do you feel dissatisfied, unfulfilled, in your life as a Christian in Mother Church at times?  Let that feeling be a blessing from God by recognizing it as dissatisfaction with yourself, and as a call from the Father for you to turn, away from yourself, to Christ, His Son, your Saviour:

In Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3);

a call to seek a deeper personal relationship with Him, to understand and love ever more and more His words brought to our mind in their integrity by the Holy Spirit in and through Mother Church’s teaching; for that has always been the prayer of Paul and the Apostles:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling (of you), what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (showing what He can make of you), and what is the surpassing greatness of His power (to protect and prosper you) toward us who believe.  (Ephesians 1:18-19)

And all that burned so ardently and compellingly in Paul as a result of his conviction that:

I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; 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.

Dear People of God, that P/personal awareness of Jesus as no mere ‘someone who died and rose again’, but as the Christ, the Son of God Who has loved ME is needed more than anything else in Mother Church today;  and only true desire, humble sincerity, and patient perseverance in simple prayer and obedience are needed to attain that oneness with Jesus, which can transform our experience of Catholic Faith as the delight of our human life, as the saving of Mother Church in our world today, and as an icon for all searching for fulfilent before God.     Just want sincerely, and pray patiently, that God’s will be done in you.