Saturday 19 July 2014

Sixth Sunday After Pentecost - Br Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached by Br. Simeon at Winmalee on   Sunday 20th July 2014:


Gospel:  Mt 13:24-43.

"The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father"

Lord, Take me where you want me to go, Let me meet who you want me to meet,
Tell me what you want me to say, And keep me out of your way. Amen.

Friends, I must confess that this particular Gospel passage is not one of my favourite passages at all, but then the Gospels as a whole were never meant to be cosy and easy at all.

What can malicious weed-sowing tell us about the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:25)? The image Jesus uses in this parable is a common everyday example of planting, harvesting, and sorting the good fruit from the bad. Weeds can spoil and even kill a good harvest if they are not separated and destroyed at the proper time. Uprooting them too early, though, can destroy the good plants in the process.

Just as nature teaches us patience, so God's patience also teaches us to guard the seed of his "word" which he has planted in our hearts and to beware of the destructive force of sin and evil which can destroy it. God's word brings life, but Satan seeks to destroy the good seed which has been planted in the hearts of those who have heard God's word. God's judgement is not hasty, but it does come. And in the end, God will reward each according to what they have sown and reaped in this life. In that day God will separate the evil from the good.

What can mustard seeds and leaven teach us about the kingdom of God? The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God's kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God's word. And it works unseen and causes a transformation from within.
Leaven is another powerful agent of change. A lump of dough left to itself remains just what it is, a lump of dough. But when the leaven is added to it a transformation takes place which produces rich and wholesome bread when heated - the staple of life for humans. The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield to Jesus Christ, our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Good and evil are sown in our hearts like tiny seeds which germinate, and in due time yield a harvest of good or bad fruit. Charles Read said: "Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny."

In the day of judgement each will reap what he or she has sown in this life. Those who sow good will shine in the kingdom of their Father. They will radiate with the beauty, joy, and fullness of God's love.
It is not very often that I leave challenges for us at the end of my sermons, but today I leave this with you as we leave this place; Do you allow God's word to take deep root in your heart?,  and in your actions?

Friday 18 July 2014

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

5th Sunday after Pentecost 13th July 2014

“Moses said to YHWH, “But, never in my life have I been a man of eloquence,
either before or since you have spoken to your servant.” Ex 4:10

Gospel:Matthew 13:1-23

God's Word Will Work It's Purpose The heart of Jesus' message is about the 'Reign or Kingdom' of God. The parables like that of the sower for this week's liturgy is a special way to help us know its significance. Matthew seeks to explain why some people do and some don't accept the way God wants to be in this world. There are two groups of listeners the disciples and the Pharisees. Jesus explains to the disciples why the coming Reign of God is not announced in spectacular ways. Jesus does not usually explain his parables but one is given. The parables can be heard in different ways and not wishing to outdo the Christ, I would like to share my response to the gospel words. In case you are already saying to yourself, “Heard that before, know that,” I ask you to listen again with a fresh heart. You just might just hear this parable in a new way.

In Jesus day a farmer would put a heavy seed bag on his shoulder and go out to his field to sow seed. The farmer would through seed across a fallow field before ploughing. The seed was first sown, and then gently ploughed into the ground. Some of the farmers precious seed, fell on a well worn path cut by foot traffic through the fallow field. So some seed landed on the path. And when it did, the birds quickly enjoyed lunch. Other seeds, said Jesus, fell on rocky ground. Because there was little soil there, the seedlings sprang up quickly and then withered under the scorching sun or those that fell into the thorns were choked off. Finally, some seed fell on good ground and brought forth a good crop yielding thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold. Jesus ended the story calling all to listen; listen carefully, deeply, thoughtfully. Listen! Jesus gave an interpretation to this parable that has endured down through the ages. Many believe that Christ’s interpretation of the parable, represents various kinds of people, and is the only legitimate interpretation. I believe, this parable can have, and does have many meanings? As with all of the parables, the key is to listen and let the word take root in our lives - that is to change us. I would like to share my response on this parable.

The parable could I believe be applied to every individual life? Our lives have worn, rocky, thorny, and good soil in which seed of God's word can grow. If your life is like mine, daily living has created well-worn paths. They can be called ruts. Routines are often required, but sometimes in our relationship with God, routines can become ruts. We can attend church week after week, hear the scriptures read (like this parable), sing familiar hymns, go through the church routine, and in so doing, give the good seed God sows us to the birds of indifference. It happens and may be happening even now. God’s seed also falls on the rocky places of our lives. Life, by definition, can leave us cold, sharp, soil-less, and rough. Pain, the cruelty of insensitive friends, and the cutting comments of strangers can leave us lifeless and unmoved, like hard rocks void of God’s bounty. The thorns of negative thinking that can choke out the ways of trust and faith, robbing us of God’s promise. We have all heard and believes too many unloving voices.

Thank God, some seed falls on good ground out of open trust. When it does, the miracle of growth and harvest happens. I think of the people who have started to tell me a story about their life with the words: “You’ll never believe what happened to me.” Or, “I had no idea God could take what I did and use it to bless another’s life.” Or, "I never thought I would find my way of the burden of pain I was carrying." We all have a story. Look back and see the times God sowed good seed in the good ground of your soul, and how from a small beginning came a result that still leaves you amazed. There will always be parts of us that are worn out, rocky, wasted, and good. But the gospel reminds us there is far more good in all of us in which God’s grace can take root. All types of ground exists in the fields of our lives. We are invited by the parable to clear out the rocks of hardness of heart, to cut down the thorns of negativity, to change the routines of life sometimes, to not listen to the birds that do not speak of Christ and the gospel way and to give God even more opportunities through prayer and silence to grow into the generous, loving person God in Christ made us to be? I invite you to LISTEN once again to Christ's words and so to discover the amazing work of God in and through your beautiful life. God is working in you patiently and carefully - just LISTEN you may hear it grow.


Wednesday 9 July 2014

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost- Br Simeon's Sermon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour
Homily preached by Br. Simeon at Winmalee on   Sunday 6th July 2014


Gospel:  Mt 11:15-30 ( Sermon based on 25-30)

 “The Yoke of Faith"My Yoke is Easy, My Burden Light?"

May I speak in the Name of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  

Jesus here issues a wonderful invitation and makes a wonderful promise. “Come to me” is the invitation, and “I will give you rest” is the promise.

Few passages in the New Testament are as well known as the one we’ve just read from Matthew. And few of Jesus’ promises are as deeply satisfying as his promise to give us rest. It is a wonderful passage.

In Matthew 11:25-30, Jesus appeals to those who experience life as one unending chore. He offers rest and refreshment. His yoke is easy, he says.  His burden is light.

Let us be mindful though, that following Jesus does mean that you are foot-loose and fancy-free.  To be a disciple means to come under the discipline of a master.  It means voluntarily putting a yoke on ones shoulders, and walking in a direction set by the master.  It just happens to be the direction that the master knows will lead to pasture, refreshment, and happiness. But when oxen are told to move, they can't necessarily see the pasture at the end of the trail.  All they see is a long, dusty road leading to nowhere.
There are some masters that are harsh and overbearing.  When the oxen slow down due to fatigue or stubbornness, out comes the bull whip. The journey turns into a guilt trip. The Pharisees were such masters. But Jesus is not. He is gentle. Gentleness does not mean whimpiness.  He is strong and decisive, insistent on the direction to go and the pace to keep. Yet his strength is quiet, loving strength that builds up rather than tears down.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus uses the image of the yoke?  At least two oxen are hitched together by a yoke side by side. Oxen are called "beasts of burden." So why does he calls his yoke easy, his burden light?  Because he humbly yokes himself to us.  Simon of Cyrene helped carry his cross; he helps carry ours.

And he bears most of the weight, if we let him. That's why his yoke is easy.  

And he gives us His Spirit within (Romans 8:9-10) to give us the inner strength to bear our share of the burden, which is, of course, the far lesser share to begin with.

Easy yoke, light burden. You may reply that it sure doesn't feel that way most of the time. This could be for one of two reasons. What we are carrying may simply not be the Lord's yoke. Sometimes we deliberately disobey the Lord (that's called sin) and allow a tyrannical master to dominate our lives.  No problem.  That's what the sacrament of baptism is all about.  Renouncing an oppressive Pharaoh in favour of a liberating Lord.  If we've betrayed our baptism and gone back to the fleshpots of Egypt, we have the sacrament of penance to bring us back across the Red Sea to the Promised Land of Freedom.

The other reason the yoke may seem heavy is because we are not allowing the Lord to carry the weight.  Or because we are not keeping his pace.  We could be dragging our heels or racing ahead of him. Either way, we are chafing and straining.  Perhaps we need just to quiet down for a few moments in the green pasture of prayer and adoration, to attune our ears once again to the voice of the Master. The solution is easy: Let go and let God.

Today I extend to you that invitation that when you come to that place of the Holy Eucharist, when you present yourself to be fed of Christ's Body and Blood, bring your burdens to Him, and hand them over to Him. His invitation is an open one, listen as he calls you in the very depth of your heart and soul ““Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”.  It is a promise He has never failed to keep, and I know you won't regret it.