|St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour|
In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order
Homily, 26th January 2014 Australia Day
Rev Br. Andrew EFO
Gospel Matthew 5:1-12
Today, is Australia Day, we remember the arrival of the First fleet, of 11 ships, into its anchorage in Sydney Cove, 1373 passengers and crew, in all, including its cargo of 717 convicts.
This day has been known by other names, one such is “Invasion Day”.
Jessica and I never tire of visiting the Botanic Gardens in Sydney and often walk the Gadigal walk where the history of the Invasion is told in panoramic photographs; the history of European attempts to convert the Aboriginal People to Christianity is among them. “A miniature Farm Cove” has examples of garden beds explaining why initial attempts to grow European vegetable stock failed, and strange looking Scare crows keep vigil.
It depends upon, whether we are “arriving” or “greeting” as to whether we are receiving a Promise or the beginning of a nightmare.
· God promises good things to people, to us, to Abraham, to Moses and the people of Israel.
· Promises come with the responsibility of obedience
When we keep our promises what we read in the Beatitudes is God’s reward to us.
For the majority of those first settlers there was the promise and hope of a brand new life of new opportunities, for the Aborigines who greeted them, it wasn’t an opportunity (irony) they expected to receive.
Abraham’s tremendous faith had led him and his wife Sarah away from their home land to travel towards another land which was to be their inheritance, God tested Abraham’s faith many times along the way and as the human being he was he eventually came to believe that God could keep all the promises he made.
Abraham’s true hope was for the Heavenly City not made with human hands for he knew that he was but a pilgrim on this earth.
Some 1500+ years later, about 1456 BC they believe, Moses and the Israelites are at Moab, the area where the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, waiting to conquer the Land promised to them in the Abrahamic Covenant. They will spend the duration of the book of Deuteronomy here, in this place learning the law and constantly being reminded of the “rest” to come, the root-less and homeless delivered from their bondage in Egypt into security and rest in Canaan.
Their charge upon entering the Land was to keep God’s Commandments in deed and in word and to live in Awe of God to bless God for what the land produced for them to eat and beware in case they forgot God!
Glossing right over - We know they got lost and misled themselves, to put it nicely. Lost their wonder for God, took his gifts for granted and were very extremely loose in their interpretation of his commandments. Eventually they would be led away by the workers of iniquity and never did live to receive the heavenly rewards promised to those who are faithful to God – because they attempted to instate apartheid in the Land
With regard for ourselves and the history of the conquest of this land of our adoption many kind and terrible things were done in its taking. Moving forward, because today is a new day and tomorrow has not yet come, we can live the right way, by keeping the two great commandments of the sum of the Law and the prophets, to "Love the Lord God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and our neighbours as ourselves" and to do so by our deeds.
What we do or did is or was remembered far more easily than the things we may or may not have said.
Like Abraham, we also know that we are strangers and sojourners in a strange land because our true home is the kingdom of heaven and our true reward are the fulfilment of our various needs to complete our personhood as listed in the beatitudes. Each beatitude pairs a value with a promise.
Let’s read them antiphonally, I’ll read the value or trait while you read the promise.
Becoming the complete human being in the kingdom of heaven was available to those in the time of Moses even as today or tomorrow.
And when bad things happen to us in the course of our service trust and know that God always keeps his promises.
Here in the Community of the holy-Redeemer we have begun our journey to meet the living Christ in one another.. To set aside our human constructs and rules about religion and to worship God from our hearts and souls.
- · Let us be obedient to the workings of the spirit within the community
- · Fulfil our promises to that Spirit
- · And so become more fully human in Jesus Christ our Lord