Sermon 20th Sunday

20thSunday of the Year ( C ) 2019

Jesus speaks of a family of five:  Father & Son, Mother & Daughter, daughter in law & mother in law are divided.  This means the Father and Mother are united; and the son & his wife are united. … Glad someone is!

Most families experience some kind of division. Sometimes due to the in-laws but not always. Long before in-laws come on the scene siblings can fall out. How many funerals and weddings have I been to where one member of the family hasn’t been invited. Too many. 

What causes these divisions: there can be several reasons: but you will find the root of the problem is pride. Someone insulted me and I won’t forgive them. And that goes on for years. What was once a fall out can, over the years, become a chasm dividing siblings and friends. Sometimes the division has lasted so long that no one can remember what the original problem was. 

The Christian is someone who tries to mend divisions. This takes humility and a lot of courage. Humility is the opposite of pride, which is why it is such a precious virtue. The Christian will be one who is willing to say sorry. Now there can be nothing harder in life than saying sorry to someone  you have offended or who has offended you. Our pride will fight against this. It will argue: why should I? I didn’t start it? Let him or her come to me why should I go to them?  It wasn’t my fault it was theirs. … and so on. There is always a reason why I shouldn’t say sorry.  

The problem is that in all relationships we will make mistakes. No one gets it right all the time. As a Christian I must be prepared to acknowledge my mistakes and if I have offended someone then I should ask for forgiveness. Also, if someone asks my forgiveness I should readily accept it. Surely a good marriage, a good friendship, will grow when people ask for forgiveness. I know that when someone says sorry to me they shoot up in my estimation. 

If we don’t say sorry then we will have that kind of family Christ spoke of in the gospel; a terribly divided family. And what kind of example is that to others? Children will grow in love and confidence when they not only hear their parents say they love each other, but also when they ask forgiveness of each other. What a wonderful example this is to the children.  A family home is like a school: it is there that children are prepared for the future, and particularly for future relationships.  

Don’t let pride destroy your family relationships. In a good Christian home you will hear the word ‘love’ said often, but you will also hear the word ‘sorry’. The Church and the world need the example of a good Christian marriage. 

Sermon 19th Sunday

 19thSunday of the Year ( C ) 2019

‘You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’. This sentence is a bit heavy; bit like a threat. Usually, these kind of readings we get at the end of the year when the church focusses on the last things. But this is summer, we’re supposed to be on holiday, sea-side, sun and sand, eating ice-creams that sort of thing. However, real life can come even when we are on holidays.  I remember being on a beach. I noticed a group of people around a man lying still on the sand.  It seems he was dead, a heart attack or something. Someone left the group and came to a phone near why I was, so I could hear the conversation with this man’s wife. The caller told her that her husband had had an accident and had been taken to hospital. This poor woman had no idea that when she got to the hospital she would find her husband dead. 

So even though we are at a time of summer holidays I suppose what the gospel is saying to us is always be ready.  We can spend our lives getting ready for something or other. Getting ready for work, for school, for an appointment. Right now I am getting ready to go on the Camino de Compostella next month. Some of you may know about the Camino, it’s an ancient pilgrimage through Spain to the tomb of St James, in Compostella.  

Truth to tell I have been ready for the last month. I have made a list of everything I will need: a map and a guide book, these are essential, the right kind of clothing and especially footwear, toiletries: a torch for walking in the morning before light; a good hat, sun tan lotion, plasters for blisters. I’ve bought euros for the daily expenses.  I’ve yet to get insurance; I must do that before I leave. Then I am ready.  

‘The Camino’, as it’s called, is like a pilgrimage of life. You could call life a journey or even better a pilgrimage. And we should always be ready for that pilgrimage. However, what we need are not guide books and clothing, euros and insurance, but other things, things that will last. On our pilgrimage through life we need first and foremost faith and trust in God: better than any map or satnav. With this faith and trust you will never get lost, you may take the wrong turn now and again, but you’ll never get lost. Then fill up your rucksack with virtues; beginning with kindness: be kind to people as you journey through life; even those who are not kind to you; this will be your heavenly insurance. Put also in your rucksack generosity; be generous and the Lord promises that He will overlook our innumerable sins: just as well. Be compassionate: as you journey through life you will meet other pilgrims who will be suffering and far worse than blisters: many people you meet will have heavy crosses to bear; your compassion will make that cross lighter.  You will need the sacraments; this will be your food, your nourishment to keep you going, especially when the journey gets tough. And finally, don’t forget to put prayer in your heavenly rucksack. It is prayer that will keep you in touch with your heavenly Guide. Prayer will always keep you on the right road. 

            In this way we shall be ready for life and even for death. It is now we prepare for death; not by being morbid, but by living in such a way today, that if tomorrow never comes we will be ready.