Monday, October 27, 2014

Be Good

Be good: that was really the theme of my sermon yesterday.
Jesus sums up the Law as first, loving God with one's whole being, the second part is almost a way of checking that out because if we truly love God we will love neighbour as ourselves. If the there is something flawed or 'idolatrous' in our love of God then it is going to be impossible to love our neighbour.

What is deeply rooted in Christian Tradition and in the bible is that our love is expected to bring forth fruit: abundant fruit. The scattered seed brings forth a harvest 30, 40, a hundredfold, the net cast into sea brings about an abundant catch, the sound tree brings forth not bad fruit but good fruit, the pruned vine is fruitful, the tiny seed grows into a place where the birds of the air find a home.

Christians too are expected to produce, 'good fruit', if we don't then there is something wrong. The Gospel expects goodness. The fruit of a correct love of God is what we might describe as saintliness or holiness..

The summary of the Law and the Prophets in Jesus' two commandments can be checked out by the 10 Commandments. If we are covetous, adulterous, lying, murderous which are easy things to judge then there is something seriously wrong.

Always, well, until recently, we Catholics have expected contact with God to produce holiness, first of all holiness in us as individuals and consequently holiness that acts like leaven or light in our society. We believe that the goodness of God changes us and through that change in us we change society. We are not supposed to be busy-bodies imposing an social justice ethic on others without ourselves being just and holy.

http://tomperna.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/communion-of-saints-icon.jpg
we belong with the angels and saints
As Christians we have a right to expect to find holiness and goodness in the leaders of the Church, it is one of the reasons I find the 'Kasper affair' so shocking, and we should all be shocked if a bishop is shown to be a liar, to bear false witness, or simply not to be good, or as in my own former bishop, to be unfaithful. God's grace is always fruitful, we should never lose the expectation of its plentiful fruit either in ourselves or in others or in His Body the Church. We should demand goodness in the Church and in its members. 'By their fruits you shall know them', we shouldn't allow the Church to be starved we should demand that fruit which Christ promises! Demand nothing less than saintliness from your Pastors.

God's grace is sufficient for us, St Paul tells us. God's grace enables us to be holy, to produce the necessary fruit, to live good and holy lives, to tell the truth even if we have been or said stupid things, to live as faithful bishops or priests, to be faithful husbands and wives, to be good parents, to be faithful members of the Church, to live well and to die well, and if necessary, as we see so often today in Africa and the Middle East to die for him.

St-Takla.org           Image: Ancient Greek icon showing Jesus Descending to hell to move the righteous people to Paradise صورة: أيقونة يونانية أثرية تصور نزول السيد المسيح إلى الجحيم وإخراج أبرار العهد القديم إلى الفردوسThe great triumph of Satan is to give us us the sense that our sinfulness is stronger than God's grace, to make us think we are trapped in the hopeless downward spiral of sin but faith is always linked to hope, to Resurrection and the expectation of the victory of Christ. The message of the Gospel is always that the Grace perfects nature, that the Risen Lord Triumphs. The shenanigans of the Synod has shocked me and many others, it seemed to demonstrate the Church is a very worldly corporation rather than something which sought neither God or the sanctification of his people.

We must indeed welcome sinners but it is un-Christian to expect them to remain in their sin, certainly we must 'meet them where they are at' but we are called to lead them through the gate of the sheepfold, to carry their Cross, along the narrow road, to put on the wedding garment and to be ready to meet the King on His return in the wedding hall, with lamps brightly lit, at the Marriage feast of the Lamb.

Our faith is indeed a journey, a journey into holiness. Again and again scripture tells us to judge: to judge a tree by its fruit, to judge a disciple by his works, to judge the times by the signs, to judge whether a place will receive the Gospel or not. We are called to make judgements about our lives and about actions and about those who we trust and those who lead us. The criteria for our judgement is simple, it is: what will get me to Heaven.

If our actions, our lifestyle, our friends or anything else is likely to lead to the loss of Heaven, get rid of them. Do the things that bring you close to God, live good lives according to God's Commandments, be moral, pray, go to the Sacraments frequently in a worthy state.
Be Holy even as your Heavenly Father is Holy!
Our End!

8 comments:

David C said...

That was beautiful and inspirational. Thank you Fr. Blake.

Tim said...

Father

"The criteria for our judgement is simple, it is: what will get me to Heaven."

And shouldn't that be, first and last, what the aim of the Catholic Church is - to guide the flock to Heaven. Why does it seem that it is more about Bishops getting their own way and guiding the flock to have a nice time while on earth. Or am I misreading the situation.

gemoftheocean said...

such a nice solid sermon, Father Blake. Your parishioners are blessed to have you. [As are your blog readers.]

[On a tangent...
The picture at the bottom is a favorite. I remember taking an art history course for fun a number of years back and that was one of them. Another woman in the class had little exposure to Christianity (she said next to me) and she knew I was Catholic and asked me a lot of questions about it, to clarify in her mind what the instructor said in the lecture about it. It was rather refreshing that at the tertiary education level that one sometimes does find that not all profs. are bashing or maligning Christianity. When I got to university in the mid 70s, the year I took a survey in the history of western music I was delighted when the prof. started off with lecturing about Gregorian chant, and arranged an opportunity for a number of us to get up at the crack of crack to go hear the monks up in Oceanside, Cal. do their office around 7ish. Some 20 or so of us took the opportunity. I'd had heard there was a Benedictine Abbey up there, but had never been before. Over the year I went up on quite a few occasions, and someone I met the next year, who has remained a life long friend is a 3rd order Dominican. So you never know what chance happenings turn out to set off a chain of meaningful events!]

Mary said...

God bless you Father Blake. I'm so thankful to read your thoughts. I wish we had a priest like you in my parish.

blackandwhiteblackandwhite said...

beautiful--thanks+<3--agree genty; yes john

George said...

One of my favorite lines of Scripture is "Charity covers a multitude of sins." To me, that line is such a message of hope and a sign of such great love and compassion from God.

The more Pharisaical among us, tend to hate, or at least dismiss, this notion.

The more liberal among us tend to over-play it.

The Christian ideal is somewhere in the middle, I suppose.

Marie said...

Thank you for this great post, Fr. Blake. God bless you for tending your online flock.

Deacon Augustine said...

I don't know if that is a sermon or a blog post, but whatever, it is a keeper.

Well said and thank you.