Homily 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – Giving

Homily (Sermon) - Giving

The Readings for Sunday 11th November 2012  or Thirty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
1 Kings 17:10-16
Psalm 145:6-10
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

Today our scripture talks about giving, and not just giving but giving till it hurts. Sacrificial giving, giving that is a sacrifice.

In the old testament reading a widow, living in the middle of a famine, with a son to feed gives Elijah a scone of bread made from her last handful of flour. That must have taken most of the flour make, at least half of everything she had.

In our gospel reading we hear the well known story of the widows’ mite. The widow, quietly and almost ashamedly, drops to small coins into the temple treasury. The coins she dropped in were worth the smallest of value. But even though the value of the coins is small, it was all she had. It was her only chance of a meal that she gave.

If you think back a few weeks, can you see the contrast between these two poor widows and the rich man who approached Jesus and asked what he must do for eternal life.  Christ told him to give everything away, and he couldn't do it. The two widows, we hear about today however, can and do. They freely give all they have, and open their lives up to the mercy of God.

Christ, when he sees what the widow in the temple has done, has to tell his disciples. The example is to wonderful not to be passed on. Christ compares her to the people giving lots, those who can afford to give, those who give what they have spare.

I am left wondering what happened to that widow, I am sure that at the end of her life she met Christ in heaven. With a great grin on his face He looked at her and said, “I watched you on the day in the temple, when gave your last two coins, I was so proud of you.” But I also wonder what her life was like after taking that step, that step of trust, of faith, the step to give everything to God. To hold on to nothing and put your life in His hands. We all have this opportunity but so few of us take it.

This weeks teaching is challenging. This week we are given examples of people who gave, who gave not the spare and surplus in their life, but gave what the needed, what they relied upon. What do you currently give? I don’t mean what do you drop in the collection plate, I mean everything, what do you give of you time, your possessions, your wealth, your love, your knowledge, you experience. What do you give?

I know you are giving an hour or two today in worship. You are here to love, worship our Lord and to meet Him in the holy Eucharist. What else do you do? What else do you give? Think about it? Today’s scripture should do two things, it should challenge you to give more and it should make you reflect on what you do give.

In some way your giving should hurt, it should inconvenience you, it should be difficult. It should be something that if Christ was watching, and I promise you He is, that he would be proud of.

There is also today another example of giving for us to remember. Today is Armistice, the 11th of the 11th, the day we remember those who gave their lives in war for us, for their friends and families. The men and women we remember today, gave everything. They gave their life. Their is nothing more that can be given in this life, than this life itself. We are so lucky today, here in this country, to live in a world that can barely imaging the horror of the war. We can see news reports and watch war films and study history, but few of us know war.  I certainly don’t, and I am grateful that I don’t, I am grateful to those who gave everything.

You are challenged to give, to give of yourself, your time, your possessions, your wealth, your love, your knowledge, your experience, your life. Your God asks you this, and as an example He has already given His life, just for you. When you meet Him in heaven as I know you will, what gift will he be referencing to when He tell you, “I saw you give, I was so proud.”

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Homily 31st Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – Work At Love

Homily (Sermon) - Work At Love

The Readings for Sunday 4th November 2012  or Thirty First Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Psalm 17:2-4, 47, 51
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 12:28-34
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

I few months ago I finished a homily by telling you all that I loved you, and a lovely thing happened afterwards. As I stood with Father at the door of the church, a large number of you said, “I love you too” as you left. I hadn't expected that, it was lovely and proved that not all of you slept through my preaching.
Mark’s gospel reading today builds on that teaching of love, it links the law of Moses to the teaching of Christ. Jesus started by repeating the command God gave Moses that we heard in our first reading. ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” He then goes on “The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’
So today’s message is the simple message at the heart of our faith, the command to love. You are commanded to love God and love everyone.

It might seem strange when you think about being commanded to love. Our society paints a picture of love and romance. Of falling in love. Of love being uncontrollable. You only need to listen to some of our music and literature to think that love is only something you only fall into.
“Love is a many splendored thing.” ~ The Four Aces
“Love lift’s us up where we belong.” ~ Jennifer Warnes & Joe Cocker
“The power of love is a curious thing Make a one man weep, make another man sing” ~ Huey Lewis
“This bud of love by summer’s ripening breath, May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.” – Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliette
But love is so much more than romance. Love is the bond between friends, love is what drives us to care, to help, to serve. Sometimes love is easy, automatic, we are compelled by love. The love of a parent and child, the love of a husband and wife. Sometime’s though love is more difficult because the compulsion, the feeling, the automatic response isn't there. But today’s command is to love regardless.

I want to tell you a couple of stories, two extremes. The first I hope you will never have to face anything similar. The second in some form I think we all face every day.

During World War II a Dutch family helped Jewish people fleeing the death camps. The family was eventually caught, the father in his eighties died quickly in prison. The two daughters both in their 50’s ended up in a concentration camp, one lived and the other died. But before she died she was told by God that her sister would survive and after the war would help the German concentration camp guards to know love and forgiveness again. That’s exactly what happened, Corrie ten Boom, the surviving sister built a home and hospital in the grounds of an old concentration camp. She taught love and forgiveness, and with God’s help and grace she even forgave one of the guards who had tortured her and the sister.

My second story is about Mother Teresa, she went to prayers every day, and every day was distracted by a nun sitting a few rows behind her who clicked her rosary beads. She started getting annoyed by this unseen nun, wishing she could just pray quietly and not impose on her silent prayer with that constant clicking. Then she realised she was not loving that other nun, so she started to pray for that nun every time she heard the clicking. Soon she would listen out for the comfort of the clicking, knowing that the nun was well. One day when she couldn't hear the clicking she worried that the nun may be ill, and prayed that she and the clicking would return.

This is the love Christ is talking of, not easy love, but love to be worked at. It’s difficult to love the stranger, it’s harder still to love someone who offends or harms us. But that is what Christ does, he loves us all. That’s is what the Father does, he loves us all so much he sent his Son to know us and to die for us.

If we are to follow today’s teaching we need to work at Love. We need to pray for the gift to love those we don’t know, and those we dislike.

To paraphrase Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we need to be patient, kind, never jealous, boastful, conceited, rude or selfish. We must not take offence or resent others. We must delight in truth and always be ready to trust, to hope and to endure.

Today you have been commanded, go out and work at love. Go and Love your God, Go and Love everyone. And know that you are loved, your God loves you, and so do I.

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Mass for the Deceased Members of our Diaconal Family

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Please remember that our annual Mass for the Deceased Members of our Diaconal Family takes place on Thursday, 15th November, in St Nicholas of Tolentino Church, Lawford's Gate, Easton, Bristol, BS5 0RE.

Commencing at 7.30pm.
Very Rev. Canon J. Bernard Massey, VG, will celebrate the Mass.

See you there!