Today, I would like to relate our gospel reading to the candle as the metaphor of the Christian. The master, who gives the assignment of multiplying of the talents, reminds of a crucial feature of our faith. Namely, God did not create the world and gave us Revelation, and the sacraments, only for emotions! The gospel reminds us that the most important ingredient of being a Christian is action! 'Act as a Christian, act as a disciple!' The most important element of Christianity is to do! The entire purpose of creation is to do!
· 'story of the heart attacks'
The story of the talents invites us to a rich understanding. The 'task of increasing what we have' can mean that God has put us into the world to spend our life in a permanent 'struggle' of saying no to our selfish, nay, evil inclinations.... From this angle, the task of producing growth is about our continuous effort of not giving in to the bad options that we can make...
'The wise man's eyes are in his head!' 'The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness' (Ecclesiastes 2,14)
With this, we arrived to our metaphor, the candle. In the Jewish mystical tradition, God's glory, his Divine Presence rests on the person's head. Divine Glory is, as it were, 'hovering above us.' The candle gives us a powerful teaching. The candle consists of three parts. The flame, the wick, and the fuel (the wax). The flame is the Divine Presence, the wick is the human person, the body of the candle is the fuel. What does our Easter Candle teach us? In brief, 'what keeps God on the head of the Christian?' What keeps God hovering above Saint Augustine's, above the head of our community?
What happens when the flame flickers upwards? It wants to escape... The wick holds it down. But the wick without fuel is dirty and will quickly burn out. When there is no fuel, the wick is consumed and burned up. We always need a healthy flow of oil.
The first question we need to answer, what is the oil that causes the wick burn? What is the good quality, spiritual fuel that makes the godly energies ('God's grace') burning upon or head? The first servant from our gospel shows that it is not enough to 'meditate' on that we belong to God. It is not enough to have sentiments towards God, the feelings of love and fear. It is not enough to speak of God and pray to him. The first servant does this - and nothing more.
Doing God's commandments, doing good in the world, is the good quality fuel! Through these actions, the task of creation is to create a dwelling place for God; here in our material world. So that God can find a dwelling place... Our good deeds must be burning 'on our head'. The talents to be multiplied stands for that you always have to have an abundance of good deeds! Yesterday's good deeds are not enough today!
There is a bit more can be said of the fuel. Why the deeds and not only prayer? Why our soul is not the fuel? Because our soul is only a creature. It is limited in its energies... There is always a gap between us and God. The fuel has to be 'the finest quality'. The fuel has to come from within our Creator! The great recognition of the Bible is that God and his will are one. Whenever we do what he wants, in that deed, God is fully present! The source of energy is God's will for the whole of Creation! That is why it is so important to 'imitate' our Heavenly Father, to strive for perfection and be as perfect as our Heavenly Father is! What Jesus commands us, God's commandments, are the inner essence of God!
So, in order to fuel our candle, we need deeds! We need to use and liberate the Godly energies which are there in every good deed, in every good ocassion when we love!
The servants also teach us something important. God is in what you do, not what you say! We have control over what we are doing right now! What is happening, what is becoming, there where we find God! (Where does God reveal himself? Wherever he is permitted to enter) Even failure is appreciated by God, if there is a genuine attempt. The master in our story tells off only the one who has not made an effort! Those who produced two, three or five talents more, they are rewarded for their efforts.
There is an extra meaning of the light above the candle. That healthy flame also stands for our community's sense that we belong to Christ's Apostolic and Chatholic church. Churches that do not maintain the sense of the 'catholick', that through our Bishop, we belong to Chirst's universal and one church, will necessarily die out! So you can see, our extra motivation to be Christians! We have the wonderful vocation to 'fuel' our personal faith; and we have the twin-task of keeping alive the sense that Christ intended one Church, a family of the local churches, without division!
The flame as our Easter Faith
On every Sunday, we I light like a candle. We would like to walk during the coming week with God's Presence and Love resting above us - and radiating this Light! This is so good - 'so light!' - to be a Christian! And this is wonderful, to see that our Church, through our commitment to this Divine Light, is like a burning candle... God's presence is shining above it! This is so wonderful to keep our church alive and alight! I wish that your faith in Our Lord might be nourished by your good deeds and prayers till we meet again next Sunday, on the Feast of Christ the King - whom we shall celebrate as Christ the Light of the world!
Sunday 31 November OT 5
31 OT (Matthew 23:1-12)
· Last week, on Wednesday and Thursday there were two very important feasts. First, we remembered All Saints. We celebrated all God's saints, whose name we know, and whose name we don't. Who is a saint: a saint is a person, who in his earthly life excelled in all virtues, who was outstandingly charitable, loving, and compassionate. On Thursday, we prayed for the departed members of our families. We lit a candle for them and friends. These two important days marked the whole of November. November is a month dedicated to faith. The weeks before Advent is about re-focusing our life on its very Source: God's Love. - At the end of this period we will celebrate Christ the King, who sums up our listening 'to the beyond', to our fulfilled life in God. - This focus on the very heart of our Christian faith is crucial. This makes us what we are, different from any other religions, the people of hope. We are people of belonging to the House of Love. We believe and witness to the truth that our life is part of a much wider life, where it will be fulfilled and completed.
Our Faith in Jesus Christ, Our Messiah · We live in very challenging times where Christian witness is very important. - Our community, here at St Augustine's, and St Alphage, through the efforts of our faith, is a light for the world. - We are approaching Messsianic times. We believe that Jesus Christ, our Messiah, who redeemed us, has brought about an important change. - We are preparing for his second Coming... - As we are approach 'Messianic times', "we go from the condition of many to the condition of one". - The world of science was teaching that everything is many, and how we know that everything is one! - The internet is showing that 'many', our muti-faced world is one, that all is united... The internet unites time, space, everything. - The history of humankind is also 'many', it is fragmented, broken down into more and more chaotic stories... - But it is still a many-faced, disunited world....
· The world of 'many', the 'public domain', which is the domain of many, is a world of separation... Where we need laws, interpreters.... - The world of the 'many', the world of disunity, the world of chaos is filled with impurity, even sin. There is no unifying light, there is no Light that would arrange it into a unified community. God's life and grace is also present in this world, but it is concealed in this world of 'the many'.
· 'One' represents Revelation. Through God's Revelation, all is transformed into light, the domain of One! - Our first reading tells us how important it is to unite 'morally' our life. That is to lead a godly life, which is united with God's life. 'If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of Hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing. But you, you have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of Hosts.' - Saint Paul reminds us that Our Messiah, Jesus is a living power among you who believe it. - The Gospel also invite us to remain faithful to this unifying Center, the Father's love which our Lord revealed to us: you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’ · So let us think about it individually, how important it is to make this unity with God visible... Why the life of our local community is so important? What is your specific task of making this community and your personal life a 'pointer' to God.... · Our life is torn apart by many forces, which want to 'de-center' us... But when we bring to realization the divine intention underlying our life, it re-unites us with this life giving center time and again!
Sunday, 15 October, 28 OT
Feasting in the Bible symbolises heaven. Today’s gospel, however, adds some sombre notes. First, we notice the sad lot of those who refuse the invitation, even to the point of murdering the king’s servants. Then we are startled how one of those brought in from the byroads, almost at random, is severely punished for not being properly prepared for the wedding.
The three readings as the expression of the Eucharist While the gospel and Isaiah refers to the final banquet at the end of times, and Paul to his daily sustenance, all the three readings today can be interpreted as the Eucharistic celebration itself. The Eucharistic bread and wine, what we eat and drink, is at once food for the daily journey, the prophet’s reward in their quest for justice, and a foretaste of heaven.
The ‘contents of the Eucharist’
What is offered in this feast of our great King and Lord? Even more, what is our duty and obligation in the light of this great gift? What are we called to via the Eucharist? - Isaiah speaks of God as home for the poor, refuge for the needy in distress, shelter from the rain, shad from the heat. (Isa 25:4)
- If we, the poor and discouraged people of God, retain our faith and confidence in God, then by faith we will move mountains and sycamore trees which stand in the way. We will find ourselves at a ‘feast of rich food and choice wines.’ - At the Eucharist we are nourished with the word of God and with the body and blood of the Word Incarnate. Here we are given nourishment to share ourselves with others as Jesus does with us. - Here we all overcome all barriers of race and prestige, for we are all the ‘needy’ looking for shelter and love. Thus every tear is wiped away and death is overcome!
What conclusions can we draw in view of God’s invitation to this rich feasting?
The parable of the Gospel is all about the way in which Jesus’ audience are passing up their chance to share in the kingdom of God. The focus is clearly Jesus: Jesus and the kingdom go together! Jesus and the gifts of life go together. To reject one is to reject the other. - The Pharisees understand what is being said: it’s just that they don’t believe it. They do not believe that this ordinary human being, standing before them, has their life in his hand. They do not believe that their reaction to him will decide their fates.
· The man who turned up at the wedding without a proper dress is only seemingly treated unfairly. Like the people who rejected the initial invitation, this guest is not interested in his relationship with the King. He never expected or wanted to meet him or speak to him, and he doesn’t care what the banquet is for. - This is Matthew’s sombre warning to us Christians, and non-Christians, lapsed Christians, and non-believers, who are nourished by the Feast of Life every day. Unless we have come to rejoice with the Son, there is nothing for us here! · What a wonderful thing it is that we are rejoicing with Him, on every Sunday!
Archbishop Welby’ s message
Finally, let me share the message of Justin Welby’s thought from our clergy study day from last week. When asked what kind of priests we need for the 21st century, he said: ‘Heaven knows….’ I don’t know, we don’t know. However, we know one thing. The life of these priests must be rooted in the life of Jesus, it must be rooted in Jesus. - Because it is through prayers that they will be open to the needs of those whom they serve. · The same applies to the community. We need communities and local churches whose life is rooted in prayer. It will transform us, and make us compassionate. - We need to pray together, as often as we can, and the Holy Spirit will turn us into the sharers of God’s heavenly banquet…
Are we prepared?
Are we prepared? This question sums up our parable. - As a new generation of Christians, do we have the sense of responsibility to all Christians? To all who live and work with us and around us? - Are we ready to learn eagerly about our faith, who Christ is for us?
Our answer is the Eucharist we receive.
26 OT – A – (Matthew 21:28-32)
Last week we celebrated our harvest festival. We sought the moral message of the gathered and offered fruits of the year. In them, we contemplated the two energies which govern and sustain this both nature and human life. The fruits revealed God’s immense hospitality, sharing, benevolence, that God is our measureless giver! But they also pointed to God’s ‘judging intelligence’. How God who takes a distance from its creation, and judges how we lived with the gifts of life. So our harvest festival invited us to prayer: we asked God to move from his throne of judgement to his throne of compassion and abundant life giving.
Today’s Gospel invites us to contemplate a similar ‘double movement’. This time it is the two types of energy in the human heart. One, which wants to center upon one’s own life and narrow self-interest. The other energy is the energy of love: which is so fertile that it is responsive to both our neighbour’s and God’s life.
We can learn a lot indeed from the balanced way in which God judges the world with justice and loves the world with immense hospitality…
Joining God’s compassion
First, the Gospel for today comforts the sinful and the despised. God holds his ground against those good people who complain that God is too merciful and too soft towards sinners… The unethical practice for which God is being accused turns out to be the forgiveness of sinful people. Ezekiel connects us with our God who is a genius in his judgement. He judges the sinner but (think of the two energies contemplated in the harvest festival) with immense mercy, hospitality, and sharing of his goodness. The emphasis is on the harvest, the possible and desired fruit: ‘when the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’
· We must immediately notice that it is this same spirit in Jesus which his opponents attacked. It is our Lord’s authority of mercy which was new to their experience. What kind of authority is it, and who gave it to him? - That is why it is not the Lord’s teaching what his opponents challenged: they have little interest in that. The challenge which this world feels lies not so much in what we the disciples of our merciful God say as in what we do.
Being non-jugmental · How does God’s compassion challenge us in practical terms? - The underlying message of today’s Gospel is what our guardian angels have been whispering to our ears every single day. (Tommorrow is the feast of the holy guardian angels….) - They say: ‘And be humble of spirit before every single person’. That is, we should not feel to be better than others! - All of us have experience of ‘bad people’. All of us are tempted to judge those who are less observant in faith, or have no faith of all… If we are honest with ourselves, yes, we do make judgements, we do compare ourselves with others. We do judge ‘criminals’, we do despise those who do something immoral, who cheat, who steal, who lie…. - Yet, today we are invited leave this judgement to our powerful and merciful God. Let this thing happen between ‘the sinner’ and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. - In God’s eye (and the Gospel is like the merciful eye of Jesus) something important is reflected… We can read this great wisdom, reflected in God’s eye, the great liberating wisdom, which only the disciples of our God can see. - We should not feel to be better than others. Why? Because the intensity of their struggle is greater than your own. - Do not judge your fellow man until you have stood in his or her place! - We should not be judgmental of others because we do not know their upbringing, their trials and tribulations! - It is his or her place that causes the person to sin… We are not allowed to make the final judgement because this person is exposed to all the negativity and temptations of sin… Compared with them we actually spend our whole day in a safe environment. -In brief, how can we judge a person who batters with a temptation or challenge when we do not have that temptation or challenge?
· And this is the story which we have to respect: it is between them and God alone.
Our wider responsibility
However, this does not mean that we remain passive. We, as a Christian community at St Augustine’s are called to be compassionate for creating an environment which offers ‘guidance’ to all. - Our God, who is our judge, calls upon each person to recognise their responsibility to uncover the holiness and mercy latent within himself or herself… to reveal the inherent holiness of the world, and to take responsibility to similarly inspire others.
‘Three loves are intertwined: the love of God, the love of the Christian teaching, and the love of our neighbors. If you have only the love of God and not the love of your neighbour, that is a sign that the service of God is deficient. The love of hour neighbour (and local church community!) will bring us closer to the love of God and the love of his teaching.’
Sunday 24th September, 25 OT/15th Sunday after Trinity - HARVEST FESTIVAL
Today is our thanksgiving for the Harvest. We thank God for all the things he gives us in this life. We remember those who are less fortunate then ourselves. But our Harvest festival, and our celebration of the Eucharist, is a very unique one.
We have the fruits of the previous ‘fertile year’ on our altar. They remind us, that there is a human life, the human calendar is subjected to a greater Law. Actually, we finish the ‘old year’ given for growth, and we begin a new year. We are standing in front of our God, who is the giver of all life.
- It is not accidental, that the Jewish ‘new year’ coincides with the harvest festival! That is why we played the sound of the Sofar, the mesmerizing sound of the ritual horn of the feast. - So what are we celebrating today? How does our celebration reveal that ‘harvest’ is also a ‘judgement day’ with one of the most powerful messages of the year.
· The first meaning of our harvest festival is that we remember that we have come to the end of the cycle of sowing, growth, and harvest. With the ‘new year’, the cycle begins anew with the autumn sowing of the seeds… - We remember many things today.
1 Our autumn products are the fruits of creation. When we present them to our God with thanksgiving we remember the creation of Adam and Eve, the fact that we are creatures. - All the other ‘deeper messages’ come from this reminder that we are subjected to our Creator.
2 This is not the beginning of the calendar year. ‘Rosh Hasanah’, does not mean ‘new year’, but the ‘head of the year.’ - The significance is control! It is the ‘head’, the brain which controls everything. It determines what is coming for the new year… - Today we remember that our world is under judgement: God is judging what kind of year is coming for us… ® So when we present our gifts, we also bring our requests to God. What kind of year we would like to have. It is a good time to ask from God…
3 The magnificent colours of our fruits sum up the two types of different energies which govern and sustain this universe… both nature and human life. - On the one hand, these bright colours reveal God’s immense hospitality, sharing, benevolence, that God is our measureless giver! - Yet, on the hand, these fruits are also windows onto God’s ‘intelligence’. They reveal the opposite energies of ‘planning life’, being focused, disciplined. This energy can be summed up as discernment, and judgment. The two poles are: total, free life giving, and the God who takes a distance from its creation and judges how he lived with the gifts of life.
4 · Our fruits stand exactly at the mid-point of these energies… - This is a unique Eucharist, because today plead our God who is examining everything and forgets nothing to revert his energies of withdrawal and judgement. - The reason the Jews blow the Sofar, and we offer today’s Eucharist, is to get God to move from his throne of judgement to his throne of compassion… and generous giving. - Offering our harvest, and making our requests is when the switch happens from judgement to compassion. (and we have to imitate the compassionate God in our relation to our neighbours!)
5 Today, the sound of the festival trumpet invites us to listen! - We are invited to shut down everything who we have been before in order to hear a message that we have never heard before! - How do we switch God’s ‘mode of judgement’ to ‘God’s being compassionate and generous’ is not by what you are doing best but rather hearing what you need to hear! - We can have our requests today… But not a wish-list of what I want to have this year, what I am entitled of…
· Harvest festival is about ONE REQUEST. We should power down ‘who I am, with my ‘demands’’… We should ask on our harvest festival what God wants me to achieve in the new year of growth! - ‘Can I hear what God is asking of me for this new year…’ ‘What I have to do till next harvest time…’ - When we enjoy the flavor of our fruits, we are invited to listen with every fiber of our being, with our heart, to unlock God’s blessing for the new year.
6 The story of the man who had to teach the king’s horses to fly.
- a man was waiting for his execution. - Then in his despair, in the king’s court said, o King, save my life, and I will teach your horses to fly! You will be admired and famous for your flying horses. - What? You can teach my horses fly? How much time you need? - One year! - If you don’t do that, I will execute you in a year time. - The mans goes home, the wife is surprised… But you have a phobia of horses! You cannot even approach a horse without fainting? First you will have to learn to approach a hoarse, already an impossible task for you. - Darling, one year is long time. May be the king’s horses die in the meantime. May be I will drop dead in the meantime. May be the king will go on war, and will lose and be deposed. - So Darling, let is enjoy and cherish and spend this time together in a meaningful way…
Sunday, 17th September. 24 OT (Matthew 18:21-35)
Forgiveness that is off the scale. In brief, this is the theme of today’s readings. There are two questions, which we would like to answer. What does forgiveness mean for us Christians. What it must mean for a Christian? Second, what is the source of our forgiveness? And thirdly, what is the significance of it on a larger scale? Why is it so important for Christ, the King?
· Today is forgiveness Sunday. · We Christians have received much forgiveness from God. It ought to be second nature for us to forgive others. Yet we all realize how difficult it is to offer forgiveness. - We may be taken advantage of again by new offenses by the other person (who is of ‘the difficult person’ for us.) Or our open hand may be refused. Or we may say honestly to ourselves: how can I forgive if I am unable to forget the sting and pain of wounds once inflicted upon me? · Despite all these valid difficulties, the Scriptures (and the sacraments we receive!) leave us no alternative than to forgive our neighbor. Or, what is still more demanding to us, to forgive the member of one’s own family. Sirach writes for us: ‘Should a person nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Should a person refuse mercy to another, yet seek pardon for their own sins?’ - The answer is an obvious yes. Because of the difficulties Sirach repeats himself in a clear statement: The Lord heals us only when we stop nourishing anger against another.
· The Gospel is still more precise and forthright. When we are wronged by a brother or sister, we do not forgive seven times, but seventy seven times. My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless you forgive from the heart.
· Our readings not only place before us the clear expectation of forgiving, but they also motivate and direct this difficult process… - First of all, the Bible assists us by its clarity: forgiveness is a matter of life or death, of peace or bitterness. Sirach tells us: ‘Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner who refuses to forgive hugs them tight.’ - The unforgiving person is self-consumed by ‘wrath and anger’. The failure to forgive brings much pain and a score of inhuman reactions. Not to forgive is like not breathing: it is that unnatural and inhuman! - Forgiveness then towards others enables us to be in control of ourselves, just as the inability to forgive delivers us over to a bitter slavery of wrath, anger and mistrust.
Our source for forgiving others
Our second question was, what is the source of our forgiveness? Actually, it is not forgiveness by itself that makes us our own masters or mistress. But rather as Paul writes to the Romans: ‘While we live we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we die as the Lord’s servants. Both in life and in death we are the Lord’s.’
· Christ, and now the Christ in the Eucharistic celebration, who enables us to forgive. By forgiving others, and by receiving the Lord’s forgiveness in our sinful life, we become the Lord’s. We become the Lord’s.
· The parable of forgiveness in the Gospel can be read in many ways. Usually we focus on the wickedness of the merciless servant. Yet there is a positive, kind of patient reading of the story. On the one hand, Jesus explains the necessity to forgive another. On the other hand, the servant refuses to forgive another, even after receiving for himself a still more generous retirement of all personal debt. - This contradiction also shows that forgiveness covers a long period of ups and downs. Sirach, from his part, speaks of ‘healing’. This does not happen instantly. While the act of forgiveness takes only a moment, the full effects cover a long period of time and require careful attention. We need to re-establish bonds of friendship across the family or parish or workplace. - The Holy Communion is our nourishment on this journey, which we indeed need. As forgiving is both simple and complicated; most of all it is absolute necessary.
The importance of forgiveness on a larger scale
Biblical history is the history of one true, loving, and forgiving God. This God is urging us to cast aside the false idols of self-interest and to live in the truth. This is from this inability to forgive, to imitate the example of the forgiving God, from which stems all the violence of our age. Wars, bombs planted in revenge, fight on personal and international scale… are coming from the distorted desires, from the heart that is unable to forgive. Who planted this heart? And who plants the new heart?
· Come Jesus, transform our hearts! Amen.
10th September - 23rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A (Matt 18:15-20)
To be a Catholic in a special sense
· On every Sunday, we pray in the Creed: we believe in the Holy, Catholick, and Apostolic Church. We belong to the Catholic tradition within the Church of England. That is why we are called ‘Anglican Catholics.’ - Today’s readings reveal a very important and interesting aspect of what it means to be ‘Catholick’. ‘Catholick Church’, the ‘catholic’ means ‘universal’, the universal church. That is, what is believed universally at present, by everyone throughout the earth at this time of history; what was believed by all the previous generation of Christians; and what will be believed by the future generations.
However, there is another meaning of the word ‘Catholic.’ What is this meaning? When we celebrate the Eucharist, we, very different people come together to the Lord’s Table. And out of an enormous diversity, different family backgrounds, different qualities, habits, and thinking – the Eucharist creates ONE community, unified by Christ Love and Teaching. - From diversity unity is created. A shared commitment to Saint Augustine’s. This is a miracle, the greatest miracle on Earth. (- That is why the life of the local church is important! The quality of how we respond to God’s love, how we imitate Jesus Christ in this particular family is very important. We are a living cell of the ‘universal’ Catholic Church.
Brotherly correction – a special aspect of Catholic life/ Christian
· Today’s readings highlight a very important aspect of the transformation which happens to us through the Eucharist. - Namely, how are we to deal with brotherly or sisterly correction as adults. How do ‘Catholic Christians’ do this very difficult task? - If we approach the other person or group with genuine love, then we are not setting out to win an argument. With Christ in our heart, we do not want to prove the other person wrong. ‘Love - Saint Paul insists - is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbor.’ - And it is wrong to humiliate the other, the shame the other person. - Sarcasm is wrong; mockery is wrong; half-truths are wrong. In correcting the neighbor, therefore, ‘love never does any wrong’ to them.
· Because love unites, in the difficult matter how we are heard is just as important as how we are speaking. - According to the commandment to love we need to hear with the ears of the other person while admonishing them. - We need, as it were, ‘Eucharistic ears’. What we speak must make sense to them and be in contact with their values and hopes. When we are correcting someone we are addressing what is good in them. - And this is the big difference, when ‘the Eucharist corrects us’, or the person, who corrects us in the power of the Eucharist. We are addressing what is authentically good in the person that this goodness can become more visible in their actions. - If we correct others with love, then we are enhancing and affirming what is valuable in them.
· There is even something more. To correct with love also means to share the pain of mistakes. If we are discussing sins and failures, imprudence and impulsiveness, the we are bonded in suffering together. - We weep with those who are weeping, we are shamed with those who are ashamed, we feel helpless with the helpless and impulsive. · When corrected, God, and the other person in the power of God, seeks to counteract what is working against the hidden yet real goodness in us. - Correction seeks to motivate, to reveal unsuspected sources of strength, to revitalize ideals, to find and encourage what seems lost.
· Brotherly or sisterly correction is never easy. In fact, this is the most difficult thing, usually a risk of losing what little friendship is left. - Despite all this, Ezekiel’s words are necessary. Correction of a brother or sister, or a community, a church, even a nation, nay, nations! - is at times not an optional matter. Correction (including self-correction!) can be so obligatory that our own salvation depends on it. ‘If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from their way, they shall die for their guilt, but I will hold you responsible for their (spiritual) death’
· And here is when the meaning of ‘Catholic’, with which we started becomes important. Out of diversity of habits, virtues, or sins, we are created as a new community. - The Eucharist, God’s love, unites us. - We sink or swim together! And this is the key. We never save our own, private, individual soul. We never save our own individual soul. We live in heaven as we would in our home, with the entire family or community.
· And what happens if every appeal of love fails to correct the wrong? - Like Jesus, we must continue to look for the lost sheep. Then each one of us, in that part of ourselves where we too are wrong, sinful or lost, will not be endangered of being lost for ever!
The Rule of Saint Benedict
· Dear Brother and Sister. Saint Benedict’s Rule, which we are using in our prayers during the weak, is a powerful support to us, as a community – to handle our differences, challenges, and work together. Through its wisdom, the wisdom of Christ, it wants to correct and transform us as community to bring out all the goodness what is in us! Amen.