Sunday, 24 August 2014

11th Sunday after Pentecost - Br Andrew

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached by Br Andrew at Winmalee on



Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

Rocks , Pebbles and Talents

Today’s readings might be the inspiration for many a sermon, in fact several took faltering steps in my mind.

What stuck in my mind was the word ‘Rock”. 
Rocks and minerals are essential in our lives. We use halite on our food, drink out of aluminium cans, and brush our teeth with a compound containing clay; dusting our newborns down with fine talc and much much more…

Our first reading has the sub title Salvation for Zion wherein the Lord calls upon the righteous Jews to remember their roots. For they seek the Lord with an intense desire, persistently chasing, the justification of their persons, the sanctification of their nature, and practical obedience to God’s law; desiring above all things to know him, to be reconciled with Him and to be in communication with His Spirit.

These, his true people, he exhorts to look to the rock they were cut from, and to the hold of the pit they were dug from to Look to Abraham their father, the Rock and to Sarah, the hole of the pit, who bore them; for when Abraham was but one God called him, and blessed him, and made him many.
God’s promise fulfilled in Abraham gave him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore – as if, perhaps that great rock was crushed and the stones therefrom awaited the coming of the Holy One of God.

Jesus is now in Caesarea Philippi, nearby the Southwest base of Mount Hermon, where the Transfiguration may soon have taken place he is taking time out and continuing to give his disciples, their final Spiritual education.

After the discourse in Capernaum many of the disciples had left him due to his revealing the seemingly cannibalistic nature of the Sacrament of his Body and Blood and at that time Peter had made his Profession of faith saying 
     “We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

So it can be argued that it comes as a surprise when Jesus asks the same question, rather abruptly "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Who do people say that I, the son of Adam or a son of Adam am? Jesus accentuates his humanity by equating himself with all who are formed from the clay the adama, with humanity. 

Who is this human? He says, as if to test whether his disciples now had their own purer faith or were yet affected by the beliefs of the times. “Some say John the Baptizer, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets”; reflecting the contemporary belief in the transmigration of souls – yet again Peter answers
 "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter is sure in the faith of the Lord that Jesus Christ is THE Son of the living God, THE Son not a Son.

It is the Heavenly Father who has revealed this to Peter and now Jesus reveals who Peter is to be.

The Greek tells us that Peter or (Petros) is a certain rock, while the Hebrew further states that this rock is special, a unique mineral; who is the Rock, Petra, upon which Jesus will build his Assembly and the gates of Hades shall not defeat it. 

He is the one to whom will be given the keys of the kingdom and the  awful responsibility of binding and releasing for whatever he bound on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever he released on earth will have been released in heaven." 

According to church tradition; The Apostle Peter founded the ancient Patriarch of Antioch go to for more about Peter

Peter was our Spiritual foundation the one Christians look back to the rock from which they were hewn a special pebble chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ as the foundation of the body of Christ which is a living entity. 

Keeping this firmly in mind St Paul urges the Christians in Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy acceptable to God, not dying for the Lord but becoming living sacrifices putting aside their own desires in favour of God’s will for them.

As Ecumenical Franciscans we understand the difficulty in being in the world but not of it, Paul places this topic at the head of his exhortations and it seems that keeping custody of the self in the following ways are  to be cultivated if we desire to achieve this status with Equanimity.

It applies no less to secular Christians and in proportion to their position of Power and responsibility in the world from which they seek to distance themselves. To transform our hearts and minds, change the current running through our minds and send different messages through the synapses of our brains – through prayer, supplication, and meditation.

Paul says – “, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God” prove to ourselves and each other that God’s Purpose will reveal itself if we make room for it.

Paul also speaks of the measure of grace given to him through which he has received insight concerning the vanities of Ego, Pride, Jealousy, Envy, and lack of self-worth and proceeds to instruct the new Christians of the necessity to banish these so that their true nature and position in the Body of Christ, the Church may be seen and realised. 

Our egos prevent us from seeing beyond ourselves and from change; we cannot present ourselves as a living sacrifice when we think too highly of ourselves to become a gift to God rather selfishly hugging everything we think we are close to our chests. 

Or if we are too proud to do so, afraid that others will wonder what has come over us that we have suddenly got God.

Our prayer to God is for a balanced mind that thinks reasonably of ourselves neither that we are too great nor too small and to envy no one for those spiritual and temporal gifts we do not have, for each one is allotted according to the need of the entire Assembly rather than for the individual. We cannot all be hands! Or artists! Or Theologians! Altogether we are one Body in Jesus Christ our Lord and one of the sicknesses of our church today is that we have fractured the Church Universal to so much a degree that we might well ask “Is God broken?”

Having, then, our various unique gifts let us use them to heal the Body to which we belong to bind our wounds, rest our weary, refocus those who have lost their way and constantly search out the perfect Purpose of God.

  • If we are teachers teach
  • Gardener’s garden
  • Accountants Account
  • Parents nurture
  • Carers care
  • Theologians Study the Word of God
  • Reporters Do so honestly

In short whatever we are do for the glory of God and for His Assembly and every other living in this world but be not of its un-Godliness.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

10th Sunday after Pentecost - Br. Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached by Br. Simeon EFO at Winmalee on

Sunday 17th August 2014: 


Gospel:  Matthew 15:10-28

 Jesus cures the Canaanite woman:  “Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs from their tables of their masters.”

Almighty God, by whose power we are created, and by whose love we are redeemed. Guide and strengthen us for Your service, that we may live this day in love for you and one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The story of the Canaanite woman was very important to the Christians of the predominately Gentile Christian communities.  Jesus’ healing of the daughter of the persistent Canaanite mother became a prophetic model for the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians. The woman is not only a Gentile but also a descendent of the Canaanites, one of Israel’s oldest and most despised enemies.

Let's take a look at some background about this woman.  She’s from the region of Tyre and Sidon. These were Phoenician cities just beyond the northern border of Israel. The people worshipped Phoenician gods. They weren’t Jewish. They were pagans. By stating that she is from the region suggests that she was a rural peasant, rather than a city-dweller.
She’s a Canaanite, Matthew’s more Jewish audience are likely to be aware of the enmity between Jews and Canaanites that had existed since the time of Noah. Canaan was the son of Ham, who saw his father naked.

 Noah utters this curse in Gen 9:25-27:

Cursed be Canaan;
lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.
Blessed by the LORD my God be Shem
and let Canaan be his slave.
May God make space for Japheth,
and let him live in the tents of Shem;
and let Canaan be his slave.”

Even more significant than this ancient curse about being slaves to the Jews (ancestors of Shem), is the promise given to Abraham: “And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God” (Gen 17:8). They were part of the people the Israelites were commanded by God to annihilate (Dt 20:17), which Joshua carried out partially as the people of Israel took over their land and cities.
These historical events would not make Canaanites very friendly towards Jews nor towards the Jewish God.

If these historical events do not make Canaanites very friendly towards Jews,why then would this woman approach Jesus? One suggestion is that she had nowhere else to turn. Perhaps she had heard reports about the healing miracles of Jesus. Her need was so great. Her concern for her daughter so deep, that she dared cross that rift between Jews and Canaanites. She was at the point where she had nothing to lose, and perhaps everything to gain. She comes and cries out to Jesus for help.
This woman has courage, conviction, perhaps even bravery. Despite Jesus’ rebuff of her (equating Gentiles with “dogs,” as Jews referred to anyone who was not a Jew), the woman has the presence of mind to point out that “even dogs are given crumbs and scraps from their masters’ tables.”
She displays both great faith in Jesus (addressing him by the Messianic title of “Son of David”) and great love for her daughter (subjecting herself to possible ridicule and recrimination for approaching Jesus) that should inspire both Jew and Gentile -- and Christian.
Jesus does not see in the Canaanite woman an old enemy; he sees, in her great compassion and love for her sick daughter, a loving mother; he sees, in her courage to come forward in the face of imminent rejection and denunciation, a woman of great faith. The Lord calls  every person who possesses such compassion and love, regardless of nationality or heritage or stereotype or label.

The Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel seeks what we all seek: to be acknowledged as good, to be respected as a child of God, to be welcomed as a sister and brother to all.

In honouring the goodness and love of the Canaanite mother (who, as a Canaanite, is despised by Jesus’ hearers), Jesus opens up our perspectives and illuminates our vision, enabling us to see one another as God sees us.

Most of us would consider ourselves fair-minded and unbiased, neither bigots nor racists; but if we're honest, we would probably recognise times we have treated people as if they were “a little less human” because they did not possess some quality or ingredient we consider imperative.
We underestimate people because they are somehow different; we treat them as inferiors because they don't quite measure up to what we think they should or should not be. God does not measure his people by our standards but welcomes all who do what is “right” and “just.”


Feast of St. Clare of Assisi 11th August - Sermon by Br Luke

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached at Winmalee by Br. Luke  

 Feast Day  of St Clare of Assisi 11th August Celebrated at Holy Redeemer on Sunday 14th  

 Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

Well I know that it will disappoint you greatly but I'm not going to preach on Ezekiel's vision. I suspect there are those that think Ezekiel was on something when he saw what he described. There are others who actually believe that what he was describing was a UFO. Yes there are people that believe that. But the one thing I did want to say about the vision of Ezekiel is he described four creatures: a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle. These are also the four symbols that we use for the four evangelists.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all have symbols, and they are the four creatures that Ezekiel mentions in his vision. They are also mentioned in St John’s book of the revelation. Same creatures are mentioned there and those symbols have been given to the evangelists. We might talk about this in more detail another day.  There is too much in it for today. And I’m not going to touch on Paul and the Romans because I want to talk about the gospel.

Now I have another confession, it’s all confessions today. Tomorrow is the feast Day of St Clare and as good Franciscans, we were going to keep that feast day today.  But the gospel reading set for some St Clare’s feast day, is not the gospel you just heard today.  Yes it should have been the one for tomorrow, but when I read the gospel for tomorrow, I liked the one that was set for today. So I stayed with the gospel for Sunday rather than reading you the gospel for tomorrow, which is not what I had said I would do. So naughty Brother Luke and I’ll be harsh with myself later.

The gospel today is about faith and that is why I want to talk about it today and not tomorrow. Jesus is walking on the water.  He had spent some time on the mountain praying.  He had just had all the people around him, and then he went up the mountain to pray. The disciples went out on the lake in a boat. Remember that Peter and the others are fishermen. They make their living on the water, on the Sea of Galilee, catching fish.

Anyway Jesus is on the mountain and down he comes. He sees them out, where ever they are on the water, and Jesus being Jesus - walks across the water and gets into the boat. They think is a ghost, as you heard, and they panic. And Peter says “if it’s really you tell me to come out and let me walk on the water toward you”. Peter is one of those spontaneous people you know the ones.  If anyone is going to do something, Peter will do it. It. If anyone’s going to make a fool of himself, it’s going to be Peter. He often just pauses long enough to swap his feet in his mouth. He got fired up, he got all enthusiastic; he hops out of the boat, starts walking across the water and then goes: wait a minute, what am I doing and he starts to sink. And Jesus rescues him.

Jesus says to Peter what is your problem, you started so well, what made you stop? You can almost hear it can’t you. The thing that surprises me is that they were scared of the storm in the first place. These guys make their living fishing on the lake.  Surely they had been on the lake when they had had storms before? What is it about this particular storm that put the fear of you know who into them? They don’t tell us. Frustrating hey. So often those Gospel writers don’t give us enough detail, and here again he doesn’t. The point is of course that it wasn’t so much that there was a storm. It was about Peter getting out of the boat and about Peter, not that he didn’t have enough faith, but that he didn’t sustain the faith.

He had the faith, he was all enthusiastic, to get out of the boat.  He rushes off, gets halfway to Jesus, goes Oh and starts to sink. And that is so like Christians when they are converted. They get all excited, they want to spread the word, convert the world, and then it all goes cold. And then they behave like this is boring now. And they don’t do anymore, and this leads me to Saint Clare.

Because St Clare didn’t do that. Had St Clare got out of the boat, she would have kept walking. And she would have got there. She could even have walked past, knowing St Clare.  Because she is a feisty woman. She was supposed to get married, but she didn’t want to get married. She wanted to go and follow St Francis. But she couldn’t, because she was a female. In those days females were chattels.  They could be bought and sold at their father’s whim. They were given away in marriage, to improve the family situation. To bring money into the family, to settle a dispute or for whatever the reason the father decided.  The daughter was simply a chattel. And Clare’s father had lined up a marriage for her and she didn’t want to marry this bloke. So on Palm Sunday, she escaped from the house.

In Assisi, in the Middle Ages there was a door in the house which was called the door of the dead. That doesn’t mean that there was something evil, what it meant was when somebody in the house died the body went out that door, and that door only. So it was only opened in the case of the death. Sometimes in Assisi today you can still see these doors of death way up high in the buildings. The story goes that, when she left the house, Clare went out the door of death. Now remember this door is not opened often, so its iron hinges were rusted. So you would expect that when it was opened, it was going to squeak. But when Clare opened it, it opened very quietly and did not make any noise.  And so, she went out unnoticed.

She met Francis down in the valley, he cut her hair and he sent off to the Benedictine convent. Because he realised that as soon as her father discovered that she had gone, there was going to be trouble. And boy was there trouble. The family tried half a dozen times to steal her back from the convent, but of course they did not succeed. Eventually she went to San Damiano, and that is where she spent the rest of her life. She was made Abbess. You can read the rest the rest of her story in the back of the pew sheet.

What is important here, is that Clare made a decision and she followed through. When St Francis started the order, the Pope wanted him to take the rule of St Benedict, as the rule governing the Franciscans.  Francis said “no I don’t want to be a Benedictine, I want my own rule of life” and the Pope agreed. For 20 years successive Pope’s tried to get St Clare to adopt the rule of St Benedict, as her rule for her community. And she also said “no”. And she said no to four Popes. Amazingly enough, they did little about it. The day before she died, the Pope signed her rule of life.

She knew what she wanted, and she followed it through. She didn’t get halfway and, go oh alright, I’ll take the rule of St Benedict then. She stuck to it. What was she sticking to? She was sticking to her vision of religious life that was given to her by St Francis. She is often called the alternate Francis.  She is the first Franciscan woman. And in many respects she was more Franciscan, than Francis’s brothers were. Within a very short space of time after his death, the brothers had given up, half of the things that Francis had insisted on, but Clare didn’t.

Clare insisted on the poverty rule right up until she died. She was more faithful, to the vision than some Francis’s brothers. Which is very sad to say but nevertheless true. Why?, because she had faith. She had no doubt. There was no doubt in her mind at all. Once she had set herself upon that particular path; that was it. Nothing, and nobody, was going to separate her from the path. She was not going to be side tracked. She would have got out of that boat, and she would have kept on walking. There is no way she would have got to the “I’m sinking”.

So what I’d like you to take away from the gospel today, is not that we can’t falter, because we are human. If there is anything that St Peter shows us is that he is so terribly, terribly human. You know he has all those wonderful ideas, his all fired up and then humanity or reality gets in the way, and he just collapses in a heap.  But his heart is always focused in the right place. You do have to wonder sometimes, don’t you, why Jesus picked him. He is there because he shows us the humanity. He shows us that, yes sometimes we will fail. But what did he do? He called out help! And Jesus rescued him. That’s the message remember. When we are in the deepest depths and what can be deeper than starting to drown when you’re walking on the water, he called out and Jesus picked him up.

St Clare shows us that we can persevere even in the face of opposition and resistance from others. And in Roman Catholic religious life there is no one who has more authority and more power than the Pope. And to say to the Pope: “No, go get lost”, displays a remarkable sense of vocation. A remarkable sense of confidence, and a remarkable sense of courage. Because at any time the Pope could have said to her “I don’t care what you say Clare, this is it“. But he didn’t; he, they, listened to her.

One of the miracles of St Clare, there are a number of miracles. She was canonised two years after her death, which was very quick. Not the quickest person to be made a saint after death, but certainly one of the quickest. At the enquiry as to whether or not she should be made a saint they described the miracles. You may recall that in the Roman Catholic Church you have to have two miracles attributed to you as a sign that you are a saint. And that’s why sometimes it takes years. In one of the miracles they ascribe to St Clare, there were 50 sisters living in the convent. They had run out of food, because as they didn’t leave the convent, the Franciscan brothers had to beg for food for them. When the brothers got the food from the streets, the food went to the convent, and that’s what sisters ate. It was a hard life, a very hard life. Because if the brother was slack in his job and didn’t go begging, then the sisters were going to be hungry. Anyway, in the miracle, they had one loaf of bread. No way in the world, that loaf was going to feed 50 people. Clare was there and the sister in charge of the food that day said to Clare, mother we’ve only got 1 loaf of bread, and that is not going to feed all of us. Clare went over and blessed the bread and then told the sister to cut, and to cut thick slices. And the sister did. And of course there were 50 slices out of the one loaf of bread. Now no one disputes the miracle because there was a whole room of people, watching as they sliced bread and they all ate. Claire had no doubt that God would be provided. She had no doubt and he did, he met their needs. That is what the early Franciscan lives were like. They just believed and they did. That is why people like Frances and Claire could do what they did. Because unlike Peter, they would have kept walking, and they did. Clare for nearly 40 years and Francis for almost 20. They just kept walking and walking and walking and walking. They never once took their eyes off Christ, who was their focus and the purpose of their lives.

Monday, 4 August 2014

8th Sunday after Pentecost - Br. Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached by Br. Simeon at Winmalee on  Sunday 3rd August 2014:    


Gospel:   Matthew 14: 13-21

Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself . . .
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, Jesus said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

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.

This Gospel reading is one in which we can use our imaginations of this setting of the feeding of the five thousand. Can you possibly imagine, being in the midst of Jesus and his disciples and hearing Jesus say to them “ you feed them”! “Excuse me, you said what.... how, by what means Lord, we have nothing and certainly nothing that will feed this amount of people, all we have is five loaves and two fish”.  Just imagine as you read this passage, and through your imagination  see Jesus taking the five loaves and the two fish, and with  your own eyes, seeing the miracle that take place, that all these folk have been fed, awesome! Through this act of Jesus, we have the second act as the Eucharist, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

The multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only one of Jesus’ miracles recorded in all four Gospels. The early Christian community especially cherished this story because they saw this event as anticipating the Eucharist and the final banquet in the kingdom of God.

This miracle also has strong roots in the First Testament.  For the peoples of both the First and New Testament, the image of a great banquet was an important visualisation of the reign of God: the gifts of the land were unmistakable signs of their God’s great Providence; the Messiah’s coming was often portrayed as a great banquet with choice food and wines.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a clear affirmation in God's providence.  Just as the merciful God feeds the wandering Israelites with manna in the desert, Jesus, “his heart moved with pity,” feeds the crowds who have come to hear him.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus acts out of his great compassion on the crowds. First, he challenges the disciples to give what they have -- five loaves and two fish.  Then he performs the four-fold action that prefigures the Eucharist:

Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives the bread and fish to the assembled multitude, making of them a community of the Lord's banquet.

More astounding than Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is Jesus’ transforming them into a community, a community who becomes one in their need, one in the bread they share, one in the love of Christ who has brought them together.

We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place by imitating the four “Eucharistic verbs of Jesus: to take humbly and generously from what we have been given by God, to ask His blessing on it, to break by offering it to others in God’s love, to give with joy-filled gratitude to the God who has blessed us with so much.

The bread of the Eucharist, which we share together in charity and faith, today, is a prelude to the great banquet of the next world to which our loving Father invites us.
Christ calls us to become a Eucharistic people: to become the Eucharist we have received.

Friday, 1 August 2014

7th Sunday after Pentecost

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached by Br Andrew  for 27th July 2014

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Last Saturday Jessica and I went with the Adventurer’s group from Spinal Cord Injury Australia to the YHA in the rocks which is a working archaeological site known as the “Big dig”. There we had the chance to examine some of the artefacts and to hear some of the history of our convict ancestors’.

One of the artefacts was a little doll known as a ‘Frozen Charlotte” doll the story being that Charlotte was off to a winter ball and all dressed up in her finery had refused to wear a cloak for her ride in the open carriage; her father had said ‘Charlotte, you will surely freeze to death’ and so she did. These little dolls were made of porcelain  without clothes so that little girls might dress them to suit themselves.
Frozen charlie 2.jpg
"Frozen charlie 2" by Wampile - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

After countless years this series of parables can become too familiar to us for us to appreciate the teachings hidden within them; especially after traipsing around in a muddy field for a day and a half looking for priceless treasure with a metal detector. Hence my little story at the beginning: archaeologists are treasure hunters in their own way and while not always being successful on a dig, when they do discover something it is of immense historical, even theological value not only to themselves but to others right down the ages.

When we first encounter the Gospel, giving up that we have to obtain it means that we change our lives in keeping with the words of Jesus, we become followers of the Way. We reach that point in our lives when we realize that to comply with the treasure of the Gospel we must abandon the things in our lives that separate us from God, that impede us from growing in our faith and be willing to place ourselves at Christ’s disposal……

Having exhausted myself of anything further to give I offer the following sermon by 

Martin G Collins

The Parable of the Pearl

The first four parables of Matthew 13 are darkened by an ominous cloud. In contrast, the last four cast light on the assurance of a positive future for the saints. In this second of the chapter's third pair of parables, Jesus reveals more secrets to His disciples regarding the high value God places on the church. The Parable of the Pearl (verse 45) particularly reveals the high cost to God of acquiring potential members of His on