Sunday, 30 March 2014

4th Sunday in Lent-Br. Simeon

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Holy Redeemer

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily preached at Winmalee on Sunday 30th March 2014

Gospel:  John 9:1-41

“Blind but now I see!”

Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word and know your voice. Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills, that we may serve you now and always. Amen.

Many of us have trouble with our eyes. If you're around long enough you may need a pair of reading glasses. And while medical advances and the use of laser surgery have made many advances, disease and dysfunction of the eye is something no one wants to see.

But most of us have never been blind. And most of us never will be. Maybe you can imagine it by being blind-folded. Or as you fumble around in the middle of the night. But true blindness – not being able to see at all – we may have a slight chance of it by accident or disease, but at least we weren't born blind, like the man in our Gospel reading. Or were we?

I don't have to tell you that physical blindness is an apt metaphor for being spiritually blind. In fact, in our Sundays of Lent  thus far the readings have been, the Invitation, the Transfiguration.  Last week we heard of the woman at the well, whose eyes were also opened by Jesus, and now the man born blind, whom Jesus heals.  As we ponder blindness and sight, sin and forgiveness today, let's also remember that after we are no longer infants, we start to become spiritually blind.

What causes spiritual blindness you may ask.  Well I did some scouting through the scriptures,and here are a few that I picked out what causes spiritual blindness. They are:

1)To be spiritually blind is not to be able to see Christ, and not to see Christ is not to see God.  Colossians 1:15-16; 2 Corinthians 4:6
2)Those who reject Christ are the lost.  John 6:68-69
3)Choosing not to accept the teachings of Christ and his authority in their lives. Matthew 28:18

But... there is hope for those who turn to God.

Like the lyrics to that favourite hymn, Amazing Grace, there is my favourite part, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see”.

The disciples saw the man who was born blind, and they wanted to know why such a thing would happen. They assumed that his blindness was a punishment for a particular sin. But they weren't sure whether he himself, or his parents were to blame.

When Jesus says, “it was not this man who sinned or his parents” he doesn't mean to suggest that the blind man or his parents were perfect and holy. Jesus is trying to correct their reasoning that bad things happen to bad people (and therefore since I am relatively healthy, I must be relatively good). Bullocks!. We are all sinners alike, subject to the sometimes fickle effects of sin and death in our world. Throughout the New Testament Jesus repudiates this kind of “you must have deserved that” gloating from pride-filled observers.

Perhaps the disciples were blind to their own blindness. Perhaps they were so focused on this man and wondering what his sin was that they couldn't recall their own. Indeed, Jesus tells us to watch out for logs in our eyes.

But if the disciples had a log in their eye, the Pharisees must have had whole trees. They too, ironically, were blind to the truth. They couldn't see how someone who broke their man-made rules of Sabbath could possibly be one sent from God.

So they interrogate the formerly-blind man. One day soon, they would put the Lord himself on trial. In both cases they were blind to the evidence before them. This Jesus was no mere man, no sinner (unlike the Pharisees), but he was and is the Son of God. They were blind. And only later would some of them see.

The authorities tried to get the formerly blind man to say that Jesus was a sinner, but he replied: “I don’t know whether he’s a sinner or not. All I know is that I once was blind, but now, I see.

And what of us? Are we the Pharisees? Too proud or stuck in our ways to see Christ for who he is? Too unwilling to hear him for what he says? Or are we once-blind men and women who appreciate the healing he has wrought? For he would come and open our blind eyes. He would first have us see that we are blind – in need of his healing. So we confess our sins. But he would also wash us clean, not in the pool of Siloam, but in the waters of Baptism. He would have us as his disciples. He would have us confess him before men, and we do.

For we have seen – not with our eyes, but with the eyes of faith. When we hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the scales fall from our eyes. Our hearts are regenerated, and forgiveness washes over us anew. Like Saint Paul, who was struck blind on the road to Damascus – we must first be struck by the law, see our sin, see our blindness.

Only then does God bring sight. And this sight goes beyond what is seen, for faith has to do with what is unseen. It is the assurance of such things, a rock-solid foundation of trust in God's promises. It sees cleansing of sin in simple
baptismal water. It sees Christ's body and blood in humble bread and wine. Faith hears a pastor say, “I forgive you your sins in the name of Christ”, and faith knows it is as if Christ said it himself.

Are we blind? Not physically, but spiritually we are. The question is, are you blind to your sin? If you see it, then turn your eyes also to the cross. And there see the answer to such blindness. For in that ugly vision of an innocent man, bloodied and beaten and scorned and rejected and thirsting and dying. There is God's love for sinners, like you and me. There is a sight for sore eyes, Jesus the Saviour. And his death opens our eyes. And his open grave opens our grave. And his life forever is our life for evermore. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Sermon Extra-2-At the Well

Jesus and Samaritan at Jacob's well
Third Sunday in Lent Year A

23rd March 2014

Reading 1 Exodus 17:1-7

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 95

reading 2 Romans 5:1-11

Gospel John 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,

near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

Jacob’s well was there.

Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.

It was about noon.
A woman
of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her,

“Give me a drink.”

His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

The Samaritan woman said to him,

“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”

—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—

Jesus answered and said to her,

“If you knew the gift of God

and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘

you would have asked him

and he would have given you living water.”

The woman said to him,

“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;

where then can you get this living water?

Are you greater than our father Jacob,

who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself

with his children and his flocks?”

Jesus answered and said to her,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;

but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;

the water I shall give will become in him

a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,

“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty

or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
said to her,

“Go call your husband and come back.”

The woman answered and said to him,

“I do not have a husband.”

Jesus answered her,

Jesus answered her,

“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’

For you have had five husbands,

and the one you have now is not your husband.

What you have said is true.”

The woman said to him,

“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.

Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;

but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus said to her,

“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming

when you will worship the Father

neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

You people worship what you do not understand;

we worship what we understand,

because salvation is from the Jews.

But the hour is coming, and is now here,

when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and

and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship him

must worship in Spirit and truth.”

The woman said to him,

“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;

when he comes, he will tell us everything.”

Jesus said to her,

“I am he, the one speaking with you.”
At that
moment his disciples returned,

and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,

but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”

or “Why are you talking with her?”

The woman left her water jar

and went into the town and said to the people,

“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.

Could he possibly be the Christ?”

They went out of the town and came to him.

Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”

But he said to them,

“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”

So the disciples said to one another,

“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”

Jesus said to them,

“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me

and to finish his work.

Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?

I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.

The reaper is already receiving payment

and gathering crops for eternal life,

so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.

For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another

I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;

others have done the work,

and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of
the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him

because of the word of the woman who testified,

“He told me everything I have done.”

When the Samaritans came to him,

they invited him to stay with them;

and he stayed there two days.

Many more began to believe in him because of his word,

and they said to the woman,

“We no longer believe because of your word;

for we have heard for ourselves,

and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
A woman
of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her,"Give me a

begins the dialogue between Jesus and a Samaritan woman, in
which Jesus promises her “living water” which will last
eternally. This idea of “living water” is often taken as being
the main theme of this passage, or at least one of them, and
rightly so.

But for me, the fact that this encounter takes place at a well
puts the whole story in a different light. I am reminded of
other stories, Old Testament stories where the well was a place
for romance and courtship! Specifically, it was at a well that
two of the great love stories of the Book of Genesis began:
Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Rachel. (Jacob, of course, is
mentioned three times in this Gospel text) .

In the case of Isaac, it was actually a servant sent by his father
Abraham who did the courting. [Genesis ch.24]. Abraham, as you
probably know, had been called by God to leave his homeland and
settle in the land of Canaan, but he dearly wished that his son
should marry a woman from among his own people – from among his
own kin, in fact. When the servant reaches his destination, he
stations himself by the well outside the city, in the evening
when the women will come to draw water. He prays urgently to God
that the young woman from whom he asks for a drink of water
(note the parallel with today’s Gospel!) will be the one whom
God has chosen for Isaac. This, of course, means she has to
fulfil Abraham’s requirement that she should be a close
kinswoman. The story continues:

There was
Rebekah …with her water jar on her shoulder. The girl was very
fair to look upon, a virgin, whom no man had known. She went
down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. Then the
servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little
water from your jar. “ “Drink, my lord,” she said. (vv
16-18a).Of course, it turns out that God has answered the
servant’s prayer: the girl is the daughter of Abraham’s brother.
After the negotiations are over, she leaves her home – with her
consent, mind – and goes with the servant to Canaan. When Isaac
meets her, we are told simply that “he took Rebekah, and she
became his wife, and he loved her.” (v. 67).
In the
case of Jacob, once again his father wants him to marry a girl
from among his own kinsfolk, and in this case, Jacob himself
goes a-courting. [Gen. ch. 29]. He arrives at his destination,
and again waits at a well. He enquires of some men there about
his uncle, Laban – this time, it is a relative on his mother’s
side – and, the story continues:

While he
was still speaking to them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep,
for she kept them. Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of
his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s
brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the
well’s mouth, and watered the flock… then Jacob kissed Rachel,
and wept aloud. (vv. 9-11)This time, Jacob doesn’t return home,
but – as we all know – he agrees to work for Laban for seven
years in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage. At the end of the
seven years, Laban tricks Jacob into marrying his elder
daughter, Leah, instead – so Jacob works yet another seven years
to win Rachel. How’s that for true love?
Back to
the Samaritan woman at the well: one curious section of the
dialogue is the discussion about the woman’s “husband”, when
Jesus informs her that she has had five husbands and her present
one is not her real one (4:16-18). I always found this to be a
rather jarring note, until I did a Bible Study course some years
ago. The teacher was Michael Trainor, a priest (of the best
kind!) as well as a respected New Testament scholar. He pointed
out that in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the word
“husband” was associated with God. God was often depicted by
means of the metaphor of the “husband”, married to his beloved
I have
always loved that image. It can be found in some of the
loveliest poetry in the Old Testament, such as in the following
passage from Isaiah. The context is God’s promise of the
restitution of Israel after the Babylonian exile:

You shall
no more be termed Forsaken/ And your land shall no more be
termed Desolate/ but you shall be called My Delight is in Her/
and your land, Married/ for the Lord delights in you,/ and your
land shall be married./ For as a young man marries a young
woman,/ so shall your builder marry you,/ and as the bridegroom
rejoices over the bride,/ so shall your God rejoice over you.
(Is.62:4-5) This certainly makes sense of Jesus’ mention of
“husbands” in his conversation with the Samaritan woman. Jesus
is proposing a new “marriage” to her, a marriage with the God
whom he himself knows so intimately.

In the book of Genesis, when the Israelite nation was just
coming into being, it was important for the patriarchs Isaac and
Jacob to marry within their own kinship group. But now, anyone
and everyone can be drawn into union with God, even across lines
that separate people, such as Jews and Samaritans.
What’s more, humans will no longer be one step removed from God,
as it were – as a result of formal worship, be it in the Temple
or on the Samaritan mountain or wherever else. God now wants us
to worship “in Spirit and truth”. Each person can be intimately
and personally embraced by God.
It’s a love story that continues to this day.

Somehow I
felt this reflection needed a beautiful art work to illustrate
it. I came across a photo of a lovely and rather unusual
sculpture by Stephen Broadbent entitled “The
Water of Life”.

by CathyT ,
Adelaide, South Australia, Friday, March 21, 2014, 17:59

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sermon Extra 1 - Messiah Means

Transfiguration by Lodovico Carracci
Ludovico Carracci [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

What does Messiah mean?

Addition to Sermon on Transfiguration

(Y-not question the Sunday Readings)
by Beehive  , Brigadoon West Australia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 20:26

No, the scriptures are the apostles' way of telling what they saw and heard, and their way of saying how their conviction developed and grew and became clear and definite. How they progressed from Yes and No, to certainty. And they do not apologise for saying that conviction came from the Most High.

"This is my beloved son listen to him."

This phrase is the critical element of the transfiguration episode. 

It also surfaces In one of the Gospels at the baptism of Yeshua at the Jordan. A voice from heaven saying the same thing.

Even though Peter gets a bad press for his three tents, this vision or whatever it was, had revealed something unexpected about Yeshua . They expressed it as seeing his "glory".

What does glory mean? If Yeshua had just kicked the winning goal in the grand final that clinched the premiership, we would understand. There was something great about him not realised until this moment.

The hidden talent of champions is inside them. A champion is the sum of his parts.
We don't actually know the fullness of this talent until we have watched him reach his peak and is on his way out. We can only judge, compare and rank a champion among others in the hindsight of history.
This mountain top encounter had a profound effect on Peter. Towards the end of his life he wrote about it in glowing terms in one of his epistles.

These words of YHWH whom Yeshua called "father" clinched Peter's hunch that Yeshua was the Messiah.

These words for Peter were the final missing piece of the prophetic jigsaw that connected Yeshua and Yahweh in the promised father and son relationship. This was the missing messiah ingredient.

Yahweh's prophecy to David that he would raise up a descendant to whom he would give an everlasting kingdom contained the ingredient "I will be his father, and he will be my son". 

In itself, this could not have possibly been interpreted, or understood in those days to mean that the messiah would be Yahewh!

Nor does it have any connection with Atonement theology , or Trinity,..... It is a simile. But a very unique and essential one, when considered again in hindsight of what Yeshua was called to endure.

In later life Peter recognised this as the final bit of understanding that convinced him that Yeshua was the Anointed. This encounter allowed Sophia to get through to Peter with the gift of "knowledge", and from then on he saw Yeshua's "glory", that is his full identity as the Anointed one.

We must never get ahead of ourselves with a revelation like this. "Messiah" has to be understood within the context of the times, and within the confines of the information about it before 27AD.

We do have the advantage of hindsight in examining this concept.
But we also have to keep the rules:- Investigate all and only its elements that were available to that Jewish community before that moment in history. It then has to be evaluated only within those confines. An entity is only the sum of its parts.

"Messiah" is the sum of all its predictions given to Israel before 6BC. Nothing else can be added, or taken away from it. Any messianic teaching that exceeds those parts is patently erroneous.

To find out the ingredients, graces and limitations of the promised messiah, one has to return and surf the Old Testament. It is surprising what it actually brings up! It is a living, amazing series of revelations.

Brian Pitts

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Second Sunday in Lent - Br. Andrew EFO

Holy Redeemer
St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily preached at Winmalee on 2nd March 2014

by Br Andrew


JapaneseTourists Drive Straight into the Pacific Thanks to His GPS

Three Japanese tourists in Australia found themselves in an embarrassing situation after their GPS navigation system lured them down the wrong path.
The three, who are students from Tokyo, set out to drive to North Stradbroke Island on the Australian coast Thursday morning, and mapped out their path on their GPS system.
As the three drove their rented Hyundai Getz into Moreton Bay, they found the GPS device guiding them from a gravel road into thick mud.  They tried to get back to solid ground, but as the tide rose they were forced to abandon their car.  Passengers on passing ferries watched in amazement.
“It told us we could drive down there,” Yuzu Noda, 21, told the local Bayside Bulletin. “It kept saying it would navigate us to a road. We got stuck . . . there’s lots of mud.”
Noda and her friends made it about 50 yards offshore before they realized they were stranded. A tow truck driver eventually gave them a lift back to the mainland. The students decided not to have the car repaired because of the damage. The car was insured, though Noda will still have to pay about $1,500 that was not covered.
The students will fly back home to Tokyo this weekend, but they said they plan to try a trip to the island again sometime in the future.
“We want to come back to Australia again,” Noda told the Bayside Bulletin. “Everyone is very nice, even today.”(source)


These readings occurring at the beginning of Lent are sent to help us examine the depth of our Faith in God, in those things beyond our comprehension.

  1. To understand what this Faith is
  2. And, a little back to front – our first time response to the gift of Faith in Jesus, the washing away of our sins in Baptism.

Here is one of St Paul’s definitions of Faith from the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 7: vs 1, 2;

1 Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen. 2 For by this, the elders obtained testimony.

Abram had the hope that the Lord would lead him into the Land Promised to him and make his descendants a great Nation, blessing the entire world through him, sight unseen, his Faith was proof that these promises would be fulfilled. There was nothing he needed to do except live his life in the shadow of that belief. We know that he wasn’t always successful, that Sarai laughed and he wanted Eliezer of Damascus to be his heir because he could believe the inexplicable things the Lord had promised but not, what to him was irrationally impossible... do we all know what this was?
From Abram’s lapses into doubt emerged his life of great Faith that became a light illuminating salvation History ahead of him. Abram believed God and his Faith made him righteous before God.

Faith is a free gift by Grace

Paul was speaking to Jewish Christians in Rome, about the difference between a life enslaved by the Law and one lived in the freedom of faith - hence the terminology:
Abram achieved righteousness before he was bound by the circumcision of the flesh, before Judaism existed, In Deuteronomy 6 Moses said “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants. You will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will live”

By Abram’s Faith his heart was circumcised and he became the Father of all the Faithful just as God promised.

Simply – the Spiritual circumcision of our hearts or instinctively knowing to keep the two great commandments is the inward reality for which the physical Circumcision ought to have signified. It is the Faith born of grace

Many times God offered this inward reality to his chosen ones who continued to prefer to exist under the Law and the penalty of the Law is death through sin- and only the spilling of innocent blood of Lambs or Kids temporarily paid the debt owed by sin.
 It was in propitiation once and for all of the accumulated sins of Israel and the world that Jesus was sent to die on the cross for us – the Perfect Lamb of God, the final shedding of innocent blood, taking away the sins of the world and making us At one with God.
No excuses any more, it is either Faith through Grace or pay at the checkout.

As children, in some Denominations, baptism is a Rite carried out in infancy where the Witness to our turning towards Christ and forsaking all else is a vicarious one made on our behalf by our Godparents.
Other Denominations consider this only something the person can in reality do for themselves – in my particular spiritual journey I have done both.
Our Gospel
Offers us an insight into Adult Baptism, received after someone has been graced with the faith to believe in Christ as their Saviour and have accepted the offer to be born again according to the Spirit and cleansed in the waters of Baptism – sometimes a river.
Nicodemus came to Jesus in secret under the cover of darkness, he points out that the Pharisees, ‘we’ are aware that the Signs Jesus performs make him at least a teacher sent by God. There isn’t time to explain this fully right now.
According to the Author, Jesus, wrongly it seems, assumes Nicodemus to be more advanced in his own understanding of Jesus identity and tells him that he must be ‘born anew’
Now here we have the dilemma Nicodemus grasping with a physical and literal re-birthing experience contrasting with Abram grasping the concept of initiating a birthing for the first time around. Yet that is not what Jesus implied
Jesus ignores that scenario and continues; one must be ‘born anew’ of water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
And as Paul does in our earlier reading, Jesus speaks of the difference between those born of flesh and those born of spirit, and to become one of those whose heart is Circumcised Baptism of water and the Spirit is necessary.
In speaking of the natural movement of the wind in response to  the change in barometric pressure Jesus makes the analogy between the fact that in the same way that they could not be sure of where the wind blew neither can we know upon whom the Spirit chooses to Land – because Faith is God’s free gift by grace.
Nicodemus says how?
Then Jesus gives us a very clear picture of who he is and what is his mission:
“13 No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.  –Though the Son of Man descended from heaven, was born and lived on earth, ascended into heaven the son of Man never left heaven at all.

14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. – Just like the bronze serpent saved the Israelites from the poisonous ones in the desert so the Son of Man must be crucified to save us from the poison of sin that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Likewise, though the Son of Man hung on the cross and was lifted up he remained in heaven with the Father and the Spirit.
 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Yet the Son of God never left heaven

Once Jesus has paid the price for our sins and we by Faith through Grace believe in him and accept his gift of eternal life then we must be baptised through Water and the Spirit as the outward sign of our inward disposition toward the good, or our instinctive knowing to keep the two great commandments-This is in the presence of him whom we believe: God, who gives life to the dead, and calls the things that are not, as though they were
 ( Romans:4:17b adapted)

Br. Andrew

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Last Sunday after Epiphany or The Transfiguration - Br Luke and Br Andrew

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour

 Holy Redeemer

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily preached at Winmalee on 2nd March 2014

by Br. Luke written by Br Andrew

Light and Cloud transfigured Him - for extra notes go to What does Messiah Mean?


Old Testament reading Exodus 24:12-18

These are musings derived from a now dim recall of the Sermon preached by Br.Luke on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 2nd March last.

I have linked to the readings to assist with your understanding my cloudy recalling of the Light shed that day on the beginning of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem.

The following week would be the first Sunday of Lent, the beginning of the Churches' Penitential Season; 40 days in length. 1

In the first reading we join Moses on Mount Sinai during another 40 day period,
The appearance of the LORD’s glory was like devouring fire on the mountain top. Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and ascended the mountain; and he was there on the mountain forty days and forty nights and his face became so dazzlingly bright in God's reflection that it was forever after veiled. His purpose there to receive the Commandments and the Law, to return with them to the Children of Israel, who, waiting below, had witnessed him entering the cloud, had seen the dazzling lightning of God's glory.

“And when Jesus died on the cross the veil in the Temple was rent and no more is humanity separated from God...”

It was but six days after Peters confession of Faith that Jesus took him along with James and John, with him up an high mountain by themselves, perhaps mount Tabor- there, like Moses he was transfigured before them, not just his face but his entire being. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light.  Behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with him.

The response of Peter with his foot shaped mouth indicates that at least he recognized the other two as Moses and Elijah, representatives of the Law and the Prophets, but how, was there a Midrash identikit accompanying the oral tradition?
Thinking that the time was now at hand Peter wanted to settle everyone into booths. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them. And see, a voice came out of the cloud, which said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” When they heard it, they fell on their faces, and were very afraid.  Jesus touched them and they raised their eyes to find themselves alone with him.

As they made their way down the mountain Jesus promised them not to say anything about what they had seen until after He had risen from the dead. They certainly listened since we certainly don’t read that they did speak of it before the appointed time.

 Indeed, later in his Epistle Peter says
 “For we did not follow cleverly devised fables,” but of prophecy, being moved by the holy Spirit when we revealed to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, but we were actually eyewitnesses of his splendor For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, “This is my much-loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. Peter then adds one doesn’t choose prophecy the Spirit chooses you.

In our passages that day Old and New Covenant have met to fulfil the Law and the Prophets in Jesus Christ, witnessed by the children of Israel and by the Disciples of the Messiah .Cloud and fire have played their part in transfiguring the face of Prophet and Messiah and Peter, the Rock upon whom is built the Church has heard from out of the mouth of God Almighty, that he who is to die is Son of God indeed. It is an awful thought!

Our Psalm on the day, Psalm 2 is one of the Messianic Psalms and in reading it we find another face of the Messiah – the Messiah of the third temptation of Br Simeon’s Sermon last week.

I will tell of the decree. The LORD said to me, “You are my son. Today I have become your father.
Ask of me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore be wise, you kings. Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Give sincere homage to the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish on the way,
for his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.

1. Information: - The number forty had great symbolic meaning to the Jews and today among Christians and Muslims as well.  The number forty to the Jews is a number that, when used in terms of time, represents a period of probation, trial, and chastisement (not to be confused with judgment which is represented by the number 9).
As the product of 5 and 8, it also signifies grace (5) ending in revival or a new beginning (8).  Thus, when 40 is referencing a period of probation, it also often coincides with the meaning derived from the factors 5 and 8.  When it relates to enlarged dominion or extended rule, then it is related to the factors of 4 and 10, with 4 representing the creation of something and 10 representing perfection and completeness.

Daven Hiskey, August 2 2010,today I found, The Biblical Expression “40 Days and 40 Nights” Just Means a “Really Long Time” Copyright © 2012 -Vacca Foeda Media, accessed 13 March 2014,<web://

Sunday, 9 March 2014

1st Sunday in Lent - Br Simeon EFO

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour

    Holy Redeemer

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily preached at Winmalee:

 by Brother Simeon  Sunday 9th March 2014
First Sunday in Lent

Gospel Mt 4: 1-11

“ Overcoming Temptation”

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer. Amen.

My topic today is "Overcoming Temptation." We are drawing upon the experience of Jesus, our supreme example. The story is told in Matthew 4:1-11.

The customary title for this Gospel passage Is “The Temptation of Jesus”. A better title would  be the “Testing of God’s Son”.  The concern of the passage is an exercise to test what Jesus  is made of– is he up to the task ahead of him – does he have the fortitude and strength to  undergo the hardship– is he up to the challenge – is he the right man for the job?

The implication here is the devil is working for God. Could this be true?  Does this go against the commonly held belief that the devil is an independent adversary who is diametrically  opposed to God?

This is the story of the encounter of Jesus with Satan. Satan attempted to get Jesus to put his own needs and potential concerns above the will of His Father. He wanted Jesus to act independently of the Father. He wanted Jesus to sacrifice His secure future for the present. Jesus met Satan's challenge by trusting His Father to do all things in His time, in His way, and with His result!
Very often, we are concerned supremely about the present. We are tempted to sacrifice our principles for a short-term gain.  Instead of giving in, we can follow the example of Jesus in overcoming temptation through trust in God.
He was a young man and was ready to embark on His public ministry. Satan sought to destroy His ministry. Satan often tempts people when they are beginning to do something for God. He tries to derail God's servants before they can accomplish His purpose.

Satan relentlessly tempts us throughout our lives, under different circumstances, and in a variety of ways.
We are not greater than our Master. As the Spirit leads us, we too will be tested so sorely, that at times we will wonder if we have correctly discerned the will of God. It will help us to see what Jesus said and did under these circumstances.
In the OT,however, testing refers to the process by which the covenant partner is scrutinised to determine his fidelity to God.  The most well known story  is that of Job. We initially hear that God is bragging about his servant Job and so Satan,the tempter or the tester, says to God that  Job is only faithful because he has  been blessed with good fortune.  The evil one says that Job  would surely  change his tune if things weren’t going so well.

So Satan asks God’s  permission to inflict suffering upon Job in a effort to make Job curse God. Reluctantly, God agrees to this request and the devil is given almost free reign to systematically destroy Job and his family.  In the end, Job never wavers and remains faithful to God.  Job passes the test and health and prosperity is returned to him.

Before Satan was given the task of testing people, God was the one who put people to the test. An early example of this was God testing Abraham to kill his son Isaac, or God testing the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years after they were liberated from Egypt.  In essence, God was testing these people to see if they  were worthy.

So why would we be surprised if Jesus had to under go some testing to see if he was fit enough to be the Son of God?  And that is exactly what we are told happened.  The Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness to the testing site.  But  Jesus had an extra challenge.  He had to fast for forty days and forty  nights before his testing began. It was common in that period and tradition for people to fast that long.

We also understand that all of us are tempted to do a wide range of things, sometimes we give in and sometimes we don’t.  Our society scoffs at temptation.  Oscar Wilde once said, "I can resist anything but temptation” and "the easiest way to get rid  of temptation is to yield to it."

Temptation looks good.  It is pleasant.  It is very attractive.  We often trivialise

temptation because we believe ourselves self-sufficient. We think of temptation as the  acceptance of evil when it is far more often the rejection of courageous good.  We are so used to choosing what is easiest that becoming what God wants us to be doesn't even seem like an option.  Yet, we understand that only by facing temptation can we know of our ability to triumph over it.

The first temptation, to turn stones into bread, is often understood as challenging Jesus to misuse his miraculous power to satisfy his own hunger because he doubts God's provision.

The second temptation is a spectacular use of spiritual power.  Jesus  is taken to the pinnacle of the Temple and told to throw himself down because God would send angels to rescue him.  Turning from the physical needs of hunger to the spiritual realm, Satan uses this profound temptation to see if Jesus will use the divine shield  to maintain his own safety.

 Will  Jesus seek to avoid all pain, suffering and hardship?  When ever there is trouble will he call on Daddy to save him?  Will Jesus adopt the attitude that he is invincible?  That he can do fool hardy things throughout his life and not have to worry about the consequences of his actions:?  Jesus rejects this enticement .He chooses the harder road and we know where that journey will take him on Good Friday.

The third temptation is the one that still plagues most leaders in our world today. Political power–control of vast territories,empires and resources.  To be the most powerful leader in the world.

First century Jews were expecting a Messiah to be an earthly king, a strong military conquer or who would defeat the Romans and regain all of Israel’s ancestral homeland. A mighty warrior who would lay waste to Israel’s enemies and  rule the entire world bringing peace and prosperity to God's chosen people.

Jesus could have had all of this –fame,riches,power. He could have been the Messiah people wanted him to be.  All he had to do was bow down and
worship Satan.  I find it amazing that  we still use this language in our society today.  We often  describe people who seem to have it all as “selling their souls to the devil” in order to achieve their level of success.  The temptation is real.

Jesus passed the tests.   With all the energy he could muster, he emphatically cried out, “ Away from me Satan I will serve God alone.”

We too are plagued with similar tests.  For the most part we can avoid the temptations that would take us down an illegal or immoral path, it is the temptations that deal with positive things that cause us the most struggle.  Whether it is looking out for our personal needs, seeking an easy safe path or dreaming of wealth, position and status, we face the same struggles Jesus did.

Will we invoke God’s authority and power to achieve our own goals and desires?  Will we put God to the test?  Will we sell our soul to the evil one in order to achieve worldly profit? Or will we like Jesus, choose to put our trust in God alone and seek to serve God in all things?

Temptations are a fact of life.  Each personal experience of being challenged
by tests calls forth a profound inner experience that requires a faith response.
Isn’t our real prayer to not succumb to those temptations which will certainly come our way?

During this time of Lent, we are called to take stock of those temptations that we all encounter.  We have the opportunity to prayerfully consider what we are being offered and to ask God for direction. Will we choose immediate gratification in the things we crave?  Or will we be patient and trust that God will strengthen us for the journey and lead us on the path that is true?

My hope and prayer for each of us this Lent,is this:  That the Holy Spirit will lead us to that place where we need to be tested.  And once there, that God will give us the  strength and will to choose wisely so that we too will pass the test.