SUNDAY 2nd OCTOBER 2016
Each Sunday as we gather together for worship and listen to the readings of Scripture there is an underlying
principle that needs to be applied to our understanding and interpretation of what God is saying to us.
When Jesus is asked to summarise the bases of the law he says.
“You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart soul and mind and likewise you shall love your neighbour
When St Paul reaches to the pinnacle of his thinking in 1 Corinthians 13 he says “that if we act without love we
are simply a gong booming and a cymbal clashing”.
And in Galatians 5 we are told that what the Spirit brings is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.
So this becomes the litmus test for our personal growth and that of the church community.
And it is in this spirit that we measure and understand the passages that confront us this morning.
At the end of the passage from Habakkuk we hear that the upright person will live by their faithfulness.
In the reading from 2 Timothy Paul reminds us to fan into a flame the spirit that God has given us.
And he goes on to challenge us to look after something precious and to guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit
that lives in us.
In the Gospel reading Jesus challenges us to increase in faith by fulfilling our duty as His servants.
We approach these challenges with Love, the love of God.
One day the great Michelangelo attracted a crowd of spectators as he worked. One child in particular was
fascinated by the sight of chips flying and the sound of mallet on chisel. The master was shaping a large block
of white marble. Unable to contain her curiosity, the little girl inquired, "What are you making?" He replied,
"There is an angel in there and I must set it free."
As Christians at our confirmation or conversion we were handed a large cold white marble block called
religion. We must then take the mallet in hand and set to work. Religion is not our goal but we must first start
Now there are many names for religion. At times we do call it religion but we often use other words and
images to describe it. Sometimes we call it our faith. Jesus spoke in terms of the Kingdom of God. We say
we are the Church, Christians, or Disciples. There are many names with varying nuances of meaning but in
the end they all describe the same thing. We are a people of Faith, faith in Christ to be sure, but faith
A faith that calls us to live in the way of love
We are not a business or institution. We do not sell or produce anything. We serve no worldly authority. We
come to a church building made by people. And to do what? To come before God seeking that we may fan
into a flame the spirit of Christ that has been born in us. And that through the ancient traditions of the
liturgy, the actions and words of worship, we may continue to be born anew in the ways of love.
The words and actions of the liturgy can become for us the mallet that brings out of us the person that God
created us to be, a person who imitates the way of Christ, the way of love.
The words and actions of the liturgy can become for us the mallet that shapes within us a life of faith, a faith
that makes what seems impossible, become the reality of everyday life.
Be careful in not making excuses for not to having faith or living by love.
I have read that Dorothy Day, a co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement and an extraordinarily faithful
laywoman, was often approached by people who said things to her like, "You are a saint," "You are so special
- a true gift of God as a person." S he hated that! She was quite gruff with those who suggested these things.
She'd say, "No, I'm not! I'm no different from you. If you value what I do, go do it yourself. You could, you
know." She detested any language that set her apart from others because she saw it as a cop-out, a way for
people to rationalize why they were not more devoted to easing the suffering of the poorest.
The disciples were this way - they saw before them what their faithfulness would require and declared that
they didn't have enough faith to consider such choices. "Excuses, excuses," Jesus tells them. We say "I don't
have enough faith to be that kind of person, the kind of person Jesus calls us to be..." Jesus says,
"Sure you do."The way of love may seem impossible to us, but Jesus assures us that even if we have just a
minute bit of faith, the size of a mustard seed, that with His Spirit we can love as he would have us love,
unconditionally and without judgement.
Many a Christian in the past has shown us the way.
One of the greatest poems in the English language was written by John Milton as he dealt with the onset of his
blindness. "When I Consider How My Light Is Spent" has eleven lines with seven subordinate clauses. When
the dependent clauses are stripped away we are left with their sense:
When I consider how my light is spent,
I fondly ask (so he won't scold me)
If God demands day-labour light denied?
John Milton's contention with himself as he thought on his blindness was not simply a complaint and a
chastening. Clearly he was in anguish not only at his loss of sight but at his inability to serve God as he thought
he should. But, Milton found through his loss not only the resignation to abide it but turned his mind with a
startling clarity of thought and vision to writing his most memorable work: Paradise Lost.
As Milton says in this great poem.
“Be strong, live happy and love, but first of all
Him whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command!”
We can often judge ourselves harshly as we experience, as the disciples did, our own lack of faith. We can
often judge others harshly as we see their weaknesses and lack of faith. But if we allow just the small amount
of faith that is within us to be fanned into the flame of what we have inherited we can be a part of our
greatest work, just like Milton discovered. In some ways the later part of today’s gospel really gets to
the heart of how we should respond to the call of God on our lives
This reading is one of Jesus' least familiar sayings, and it's one of his most confusing, and one of his
It doesn't let us off the hook.
“We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty”
One preacher, Terrence Johnson, was so frustrated with this parable and saying of Jesus as he sought to
prepare a sermon on it, that he ended up writing Luke a letter which became his sermon. "Dear Luke," he said:
You're a terrific writer, and through the years I've become more appreciative of your Gospel (along with your
second volume, The Acts of the Apostles). There's a wonderfully human touch to your writing, even in the
midstof the mysterious. Your story of the birth of Jesus is a masterpiece; and our churches have listened to
children read it for many Christmases. Your inclusion of the parable of the Good Samaritan is a literary jewel.
And the resurrection appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is one of the most intriguing and
touching of the post-resurrection stories.
I like your Gospel, Luke; but I'm having some real difficulty with your little parable about the farmer and his
slave. It's not exactly a heart-warming story, nor is it a mountain-peak experience of Bible reading. How could
you write something like that?! Look again at how you end it: "When you have done all that is commanded you
say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.' Now doesn't that sound like a real
Our understanding of this demand can only be in the context of real love or Lovers ,because for lovers Duty Is
Ask any parent who gets up at 2:00 a.m. and then at 3:00 a.m. and then at 3:30 a.m. to answer the cry of a
sick baby. Lovers never ask, "What's the least I can do?"
Ask any man whose income is so limited that after he pays his rent and buys his groceries he has only a few
cents to spare. But his sweetheart has a birthday the next month and he has his eye on something that means
he'll have to go without lunch for three weeks. So he buys it.
There is a poster that shows a little guy carrying a young boy nearly as big as he is, saying, "He's not heavy;
he's my brother."
Are any of these lovers looking for a medal? No. They're only doing their duty. And it's natural.
Our relationship to Christ is like this. For although Jesus may have been cracking a small joke when he
portrayed how ludicrous it would have been if the master served the slave, yet that ridiculous reversal of roles
is just what took place in the Upper Room when the Master served the disciples, washing their feet. It was
symbolic of his entire ministry, including the cross.
So in conclusion for me these readings are saying in terms of the concepts of love and faith just Go Ahead and
Slowly I have realized that I do not have to be qualified to do what I am asked to do. That I just have to go
ahead and do it, even though I can't do it as well as I think it ought to be done. This is one of the most
liberating lessons of my life.
This week we remember the wonderful life of St Francis, a man who simply just obeyed the command of God
and got on and did it.
He loved God with all his heart mind and soul and loved his neighbour as himself.
When, during the Crusades, he was captured by the Saracens, St. Francis challenged the imams to a duel to
prove which was the true religion. “Light a bonfire,” Francis reportedly said to the Sultan, “and have your imam
enter the fire along with me. Whoever emerges from the flames unhurt, his God is the true God.”
The Sultan thought it was a good idea. His imam was not so. But from that moment on, the Sultan gave
Francis and his friars safe passage passes to travel anywhere in Muslim territories unhindered so much was
by Francis’ faith. The faith of a mustard seed.
Let us then live out the faith we are called to, let us live in the ways of love. Let us as a church be a people
who do the impossible because we step out in faith. Let us be a people who experience the miraculous work
of God because we are living in faith and love.
Let us pray together with St Frances
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.