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