Homily 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Year A - Remembrance Sunday

Homily (sermon)
Remembrance Sunday

The Readings for the Thirty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A:
Wisdom 6:12-16, Psalm 62:2-8, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13

Our Gospel message today is simple. We are being told to be ready, to be prepared, to live every day as if it were the day before we meet Jesus our Lord, our Creator and our Judge. We are being told to take all His lessons, all His teaching and apply it every day of our lives. See, it a very simple Gospel today, but it is far from an easy Gospel . We don’t, we can’t live perfect lives. We are human, make mistakes; we are greedy, cruel, lazy and stupid. But we are also, as we are called to be; kind, caring, hardworking and filled, if we ask to be, with the Wisdom of God.

I love our first reading today about Wisdom. We are promised Wisdom will be there when we look for her. We just need to open our eyes and look. To seek her out and she will find us. I’ll come back to our first reading and finish this homily by re-reading it for you because I can think of no better way to remember the fallen of war than by seeking Wisdom, and with that Wisdom maybe finding a way to end all war.

Over the last 4 years I have preached every Remembrance Sunday and I have been shocked and horrified by the scale of the first world war. This year again I looked at what was happening a hundred years ago, and one hundred years ago the First World War battle of Passchendaele was coming to a close. It was fought in Flanders, Belgium between July and November 1917. In his Memoirs of 1938, Lloyd George wrote, "Passchendaele was indeed one of the greatest disasters of the war ... No soldier of any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign ..." It reduced the landscape to a wasteland of mud and devastation. The causality figures for that one battle over only 5 months of a 4 and a half year war were horribly huge. I won’t give you numbers, when they are that large they mean nothing to us. But to put it in the context of our local area:

  • In the first month the causalities were more than double the total population now of Yate, Chipping Sodbury and Kingswood.
  • The lowest estimates of allied causalities would be the same as every man, women and child currently living in Downend.
  • The higher estimates of total causalities from both sides would be about the same as today’s population of Bristol, Bath, Chippenham, Cheltenham and Swindon. That’s almost everyone who lives within the borders of our diocese, everyone.

We have to remember those that died and those that returned.
We have to remember the cost of war, the cost they paid.
We have to think how lucky we are for the peace we enjoy.
We have to pray for the wisdom to not make those mistake again.
We have to live daily lives that honour their sacrifice.
We have to live daily lives that respond to His Sacrifice. His Sacrifice that brings forgiveness for our mistakes and for our sins.
We have to prepare.
We have to be ready.

Wisdom, Chapter 6 verses 12 to 16:

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.
Wisdom 6:12-16



The eleventh hour,
The eleventh day,
The eleventh month,
Tumult paused,
The guns fall silent,
This is Armistice Day,
Two minutes,
Two minutes in busy lives,
Those who gave,
Made the ultimate sacrifice,
And the wounded,
All who served,
For our freedom.
We do not celebrate war,
The barbarian acts,
Man’s cruelty to fellow man,
His greed and self-seeking,
This is a moment of thanksgiving,
To all the brave,
Those who gave their all for us,
The price they gladly paid.
Let it not be in vain,
May we too value life,
All that cost so dear,
Make our lives,
A memorial,
A fitting tribute,
 To valour,
Endeavour and sacrifice.
Patrick R.
November 2009