Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Homily for Ascension - Abbot Mark

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Abbot Mark Sent: Thursday 9th May 2013
Subject: Homily for Ascension
Fr Mark

Homily for Ascension,  2013                                   
The Holy Spirit was with Jesus from the very beginning of his public ministry in the River Jordan.  The Spirit was never far from him as he went about preaching among the people.  It is not surprising then that Jesus told his disciples that they would be given the Holy Spirit as their guide and would bring to mind all that he had been telling them.  The Spirit would lead them into all truth and make clear to them what they should do and say.  Like all disciples, they heard what Jesus had told them but did not always understand or even remember everything he had said to them. 

As with all good teachers, Jesus had to pass on and leave these pupils of his to put into practice what they had been taught.  Only in this way would they show if they had really learnt what they had received from Jesus.  It’s all very well to show people the sea and to even encourage them to dip their feet in it by the shore.  But, until they themselves plucked up the courage and plunged into the deep, they would not learn how to swim.
That is the teacher’s role: to show his pupils how to swim.  His job was to hand on what he knew and then to move on, leaving them enough space to develop on their own.  A good teacher lives on in the deeds and appreciation of those he has taught.  The Spirit that guided him would be passed on to them.  And Jesus, our Good Teacher, leaves us to fend for ourselves but always with the guidance and inspiration of his own Holy Spirit.  Our Lord tells us as much himself.  He had to leave them or the Holy Spirit will not come and be their Spirit. 

Jesus returned to where he had come from.  His place now is with the Father.  And now that he has taken his own proper place in heaven, his disciples had to take up his mantle and themselves teach about the kingdom of God by their lives and words.
What Jesus was to the disciples he remains the same for us today.  The Holy Spirit is the bond between the Lord risen the dead and those who are now his disciples. Unless we realise that, something is lacking in our understanding of our Christian faith.  The figure Christ’s remains present in the world for us but only through the Holy Spirit.  If we don’t grasp that then we have yet to learn from the teaching of the Gospel.

Jesus ascended into heaven in order to prepare the disciples mentally for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  This same Spirit who was present in Jesus’ life and came down on the apostles at the first Pentecost now comes to be with us.  As Jesus told his disciples, the kingdom of God is very near.  What they experienced remains a reality for us.  We may not see the wonderful works that we read of in the Scriptures.  But we will meet with unusual things happening in peoples’ lives though prayer and trust in God.  To believe in the power of Christ we need to pray with confidence that the Holy Spirit will indeed be present in the Church and in us.  The Spirit will indeed make all things new in our lives.  For that to happen we have to keep listening to Christ who continues to teach us through his word in the scriptures. 

If we live by that word we will be doing something new.  Miracles will happen in us.  We will become a more transformed people through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Abbot Homily Sunday 5th May 2013

Homily: Abbot Mark   (1 Cor 13, Mt. 25)

                         Divine Service (Knights Templar)   

 Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Christian vocation is strikingly summed up for us in St Matthew’s gospel when Jesus told the parable of the Last Judgement.  (Mt 25.34-40)

How we are welcomed then will depend on how we live now.  There is no beating about the bush as regards how we should behave in our lives.  In true parable style, Jesus’ message is given in strikingly black and white terms.  We need to be told, so Jesus does not pull his punches.  We also know that God is love, that he is gentle and full of compassion, that he does not break the broken reed.  As we grow in love we come to know our selfish tendencies as well.

In the first reading from chapter 13 of the first letter to the Corinthians, we see St Paul spelling out some of the warmer but still difficult messages that come from our Lord’s own life and teaching.  It could be said that the passages for Matthew and Paul are two sides of the one coin.  This coin will gain us entry through the pearly gates of heaven.

We may use all the fine words of eloquence and create a wonderful impression on our hearers, as St Paul himself says in this letter to the Corinthians, but if we do not live what we say then our lives will be empty and meaningless.  If we do use them as a pattern for our lives then the world will be a wonderful place to be in.  Our relationships will be happy ones and our friendships will be rich and rewarding.

It’s not surprising that this chapter from I Corinthians is often used at Weddings.  Its words are warm and inspiring, direct and practical and speak in everyday language.  When the newly married are still in the first flush of their love for each other, the magic of love flows equally from one to the other.  It is in the later periods when their personalities are developing that life can become difficult.  If one or other of them does not recognise the changing landscape of their relationship, there will be many crises.  It may fall on one of them to keep up the loving because the other is finding it hard to cope.  This is when love is tested.  Christ himself encountered much misunderstanding and even hostility in his life.  But it was through suffering that he himself learnt obedience as Scripture itself tells us.  He grew in his own understanding of his life and vocation.  He remained faithful to God’s will for him.  He died but then rose to a new life.  In a committed married life that is also what happens.  The vocation of married life is a mirror for all our lives as we go to God.  Like Christ’s own life, ours is tried and tested so that it may become stronger and reveal the greater depths that lie within us.  When we are the weak partners in a marriage, or in any friendship, we are the ones who need the love and support of our partners or friends.

The love of the family is the source and bedrock of society.  Love within the family will grow when it goes out to help and support the extended family and beyond that again to society at large.  Even in needy parts of the world this is a recognised phenomenon.  Our world has become a village in which the concerns and needs of others become ours.  There is a native proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child.  In today’s world wide communications everyone becomes our near neighbour.

Many have commented that in today’s world there is a growing selfishness, where there is little or no place for sympathy for others.  We are in a recession and wealth is concentrated in the hands of the well off.  The Christian conscience makes love a force that turns from an initial inward-looking love to an outgoing force that helps the needy.

When we love others their lives grow.  When we cast our love into the waters of life, it spreads like the ripples from a pebble thrown into a lake.  When others do the same many small miracles happen which help to change our world.

The message Christ gives us is that we must learn to die to our self –to our selfishness – in order that we may rise up to a new and better life.  That life is Christ’s risen from the dead.  It remains risen when we maintain our spirit of compassion for one another in our sorrows and our joys.

When we do approach the pearly gates it won’t be to join a long queue to have our records checked. Those who have lived in the spirit of the gospel will walk through without realising that the gates are there.  They will be going simply where their hearts are leading them.