Homily preached by Br. Luke at Blaxland on Sunday 8th February 2015:
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, year B
" As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them."(Mark 1:29-31 NRSV)
And then they came from everywhere to be healed by him
Jesus cured many people of various diseases and cast out many daemons, and remember what we said at Bible Study last Thursday about Jesus silencing the daemons, he silenced them and cast them out. Mark says again “He would not permit the daemons to speak” and every time he cast a daemon out, he said to the daemon “be quiet, and go! He always said that, when the daemons spoke, he would not let them say who he was, people might think – well, why won't he let them speak? Was he frightened of them, no of course not, what he doesn't want is for them to start telling people who he is because at this point in time he is beginning his ministry and later on he doesn't want the events that unfold to be brought forth more quickly, which is obviously what Satan wants, so they cannot interfere and disrupt his plans, his mission, so he said ‘be silent’! And when God says ‘be silent!’ what do you do? Be Silent.
I won’t speak about Isaiah, this morning because we will do that along with the Psalm at our Parish Bible Study on Thursday.
(Holy Redeemer Christian Community does Bible Study by Skype at 7.30pm AEST each Thursday)
I am going to go to someone many people don't like very much– our friend Paul
“If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the gospel!
What is he saying? It’s no good me going look at me aren't I wonderful I’m proclaiming the gospel! No! Just because he does it doesn’t mean he can boast about it, and say how good I am. You can't puff yourself up and make yourself important:
‘I am such a good Christian for preaching the gospel’- because you have an obligation to do that as a Christian- so you can't run around saying ‘I’m such a good Christian, look at me I'm preaching the gospel’. No, being a Christian is about doing.
We have the obligation to preach the gospel, St Francis of Assisi said how do you proclaim the gospel, you can do it in the way you live, you don’t necessarily have to use words, he didn't actually say it in those words, did he Andrew?
The intention behind whatever the words he did say was– “Preach everywhere, if necessary use words” In other words what Paul said is that ‘I have an obligation on me to proclaim the gospel’ so I am doing it. If I do it for my own will I have a reward, but it is not for his own will because he had been subject to the commission. He is following the command given to him by Christ.
Later in the gospel, in what comes to be known as the Great Commission Jesus says to the disciples go out and make converts of the whole world In other words go out there and spread the Message, spread the Good News, and we all know what the Good News is, the message of the gospel in its fundamental form, God is Love, as John said in his Gospel, he couldn't have made it any plainer, God is Love!
The whole message of the Christian Gospel is Love and Reconciliation to God.
We are reconciled back to God through the action of Christ.
Paul then says this really complicated thing:
“To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law.” [1 Corinthians 9:20b NRSV]
He is not under the Law! What is he talking about? He has these lovely convoluted arguments, he does that all the time, what he is simply saying is that he is not under the Law, but what law is he referring to here? He is referring to the Mosaic Law, he is referring to the Jewish Law, he is not under the Jewish Law anymore he is not under the Mosaic Law, why not? Because he is under the Law of Christ and we know that the church in Jerusalem decided that Christians were not bound to follow the Mosaic Law, which is why many Christians are not circumcised.
If we had to follow the Law of Moses every Christian male would be have to be circumcised; because we do not follow the Jewish Law there is no obligation on us to be circumcised which is one of the things discussed by the church in Jerusalem where it was decided that Christians were not bound by the Mosaic Law.
I am not under the Law but for those Jews who are under the Law I will act as though I am under the Law so that I don’t frighten them, don’t scare them away and I can convert them to the Message of Christ by them understanding that I understand the message of the Law. Which is why he said “To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some
(1 Corinthians 9:22 NRSV)
In other words Paul is saying he will do anything that is required for him to preach the gospel to convert people to the Faith; what is conversion to the Faith? Bringing them the knowledge of God’s love and the gift of Reconciliation… So it is not really that complicated when you start to unpick him; and you don’t worry about he argues this and then he argues that etc. that is his rhetorician style, the way he was taught to argue.
I want to go back briefly to Mark and then we will stop.
All night Jesus had been healing and casting out daemons so he must have been somewhat tired, I know I would be very tired, wouldn't you?
”In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NRSV)
Now that is the other pattern that Jesus followed, you remember that on many, many, occasions after Jesus had preached, after he had done a lot of work like this he retreated to a cave, to a mountain top, a deserted place to a boat to wherever and he prayed. Going to reconnect himself with the Divine, to recharge his batteries, as it were… not that he needs to from the divine perspective but in his humanity, his human body he did. That’s why we find that in the early church the earliest monks went to the desert, we now call them the Desert Mothers and Fathers, they went and they lived, literally, in the desert but they didn't live in Monasteries’ as we know them they lived very much like the Carthusians do, they each had their own cell and came together for meetings.
That is the pattern of the Desert Mothers and Fathers:-the very earliest type of religious communities would go to the desert, mimicking what Jesus did, he had gone into the desert, stayed in the desert prayed in the desert, where it is different is that the monks and the nuns don’t come back, once they had gone into the monastery in the desert they didn’t come back out again. We Franciscans do come back.
And then Simon Peter says we’ve been looking for you, where have you been, everyone’s gone, what have you been doing?
Jesus says come on let’s go to the next town, he doesn't even answer them, he doesn't say, “Well this is what I have been doing” …My job is to preach the gospel, proclaim the message, to visit the Synagogues and cast out daemons, come on, let’s go, and off he goes and on to the next town.
Paul is mimicking Jesus, isn't he? Preach Convert, next town. Preach Convert, next town.
I am often asked what is the difference between a friar and a monk. It is Very simple a monk takes a vow of stability and obedience to a Community, the same for a nun, and goes to the Community and lives there and doesn't leave. They go to that Monastery, wherever that might be and that is where they spend the rest of their life. They may move occasionally from monastery to monastery or from place to place but by and large it is to the one Community and one Monastery and that is where they stay.
Dominicans and Franciscans are called Friars and that is because they are mendicants and what we mean by mendicants is that the vows we take are to the Order and so we can be sent anywhere in order to do the Work of the Order, so in some ways a friar is more like Paul who goes from town to town and place to place preaching, converting, next town and so on and so forth and that’s what Francis wanted brothers, who were out and about.(Sisters couldn't go out in those days, for their own protection they had to remain in the monastery otherwise they would be raped and all sorts of things, so they remained inside and are Enclosed Orders.) The Brothers were out and about because that was what Francis wanted.
Francis was following Paul, who Paul was following? Jesus, who was Francis Following? Jesus.
Recorded and transcribed by Br Andrew