Wednesday 21 May 2014

5th Sunday of Easter - Br Luke

Andre-Rublev's Saviour 

Homily preached at Winmalee on Sunday 18th May  2014

Gospel John 14:1-14

In the Christian faith, we believe that Jesus, was, is both human and divine.  That he was, is, the second person of the trinity.  An integral member of the Godhead.  As it says in the creed, of the same substance as the Father.  But did Jesus know this? Did he tell us this, or is this simply the theological construct of the early church fathers and mothers? Something which was written to distinguish the faith from Judaism?  Can we see proof?  The answer is really quite simple.

Indeed if we ever want some indication from the scriptures that Christ knew who he was, here it is. “Philip. He who has seen me has seen the Father.” And “I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”  This of course to the Jews was blasphemy, and it was this above all that caused them to want him dead.  But to us it’s not blasphemy – its proof.

But what does it mean.  After all Stephen as we heard in the reading from Acts was so convinced of the truth of this that he died for this belief.  As did countless martyrs through the centuries, especially during the horrible Roman persecutions.

It means quite simply that Jesus was, is, God.  He was always aware of the thoughts and actions of the other members of the trinity.  Now I know this sounds like I’m about to embark on a dissertation on the Trinity – I’m not.  I’m going to leave that for another day. Instead I do want to focus our attention today on the passage that’ seems to me, to indicate that Jesus was so aware of who he was, that he gently castigated Philip about it.

The question is of course, do we believe it.  If I was to be honest I would have to say, given the number of people who no longer come to church, who seem to want to flee from, or deny the faith – the answer is no.  This is not only sad, it’s tragic.  The human race cannot survive without faith.  And in our desire to have some sort of faith, people today have replaced “the way the truth and the life” with other beliefs.  Some of which are not really faiths but distractions. Put bluntly, they are simply replacements for God.  How terribly, terribly empty and bereft that is.

But Jesus give us an out, an escape clause for those who find it just too difficult to believe in his divinity. “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”  So if the words can’t convince you, look at the deeds.  Looks at the miracles and believe then.
This should be easy, then, for us who live in what is generally called the post-modern era.  We just won’t believe anything unless it can be proved.  So the miracles Jesus did, should be proof enough to keep us happy.  But no, these are now questioned.  Interpreted as myths, exaggerations, allegories, or people try to find a medical explanation for the healing.  They will grasp at anything that will allow them to deny, yes deny, Jesus’s divine nature, and thus deny God.

After all, if the record is faulty, then we need not believe. And therefore the faith is meaningless and it is devoid of anything that would make it genuine.  And then the logic goes, we can abandon it, treat it as outdated, out of touch with reality and irrelevant. Make no mistake when we do this, then we allow the evil one to enter and rule.  And that is not something that we can, or should, treat lightly.

In spite of what the modern world may think, evil is not to be glorified, it is to be opposed. For evil destroys - it does not create.  Evil leads us to dark places where deeds are done in secret, where light is shunned and spurned.  These are all places where people can hide and not be honest or responsible to themselves, or to others.  In these dark places, people do not love each other, they feed on each other, they destroy each other; they cause death.  And we only have to look around us and will all too easily see the deathly fruits of evil.

So what are we to do in the face of evil?  We are to ask God to help us, to guide us, to protect us.  Jesus said: “Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

We of course are often too afraid to ask.  Don’t be.  It is when we seek that we find, when we knock that we are admitted and when we ask, that we receive.  So have courage, ask for help in overcoming evil, in dispelling the darkness, in consigning evil to the empty void where it belongs.