Homily for the Third Sunday after Trinity

A Homily for the Third Sunday after Trinity

15 June 2013

Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Pewaukee, WI

Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian

THEN drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. (Luke 15:1,2)

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. 

In both parables this morning, something is lost. And in both parables, the one who values the lost, either sheep or coin, goes looking for it. But the core of the gospel this morning is not the parables, but rather the reason why Jesus tells the parables. Tax collectors and the other “sinners” are gathering around Jesus, ready to hear what he has to say. The Scribes and the Pharisees, always antagonizing Jesus, say to each other, “This man receives sinners and eats with them!”

Jesus eats and associates with those who do not follow the Law and those who collect taxes for the hated Romans. The Pharisees viewed both of these groups as lost, and rightly so.  But the Pharisees are just as lost. The Scribes are just as lost as those who have sided with the Romans. Truthfully, all are lost, because as St. Paul says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Into this mix comes Jesus Christ. This is the one, who, on a larger level, is God incarnate, God come down to earth to dwell among us and with us, taking on our nature. On the individual level, and the level that the scribes and pharisees operated on, this was one who ate with Roman collaborators, who talked with the Samaritan woman at the well, who healed on the sabbath, who pronounced the forgiveness of sins, who preached in the Synagogue that Isaiah 61 had been fulfilled in the presence of those listening.

And in response to their accusation, Jesus tells two parables. He tells of the shepherd which goes after the sheep, and the woman who searches for the lost coin. The sheep is lost because it did not hear or did not obey the shepherd. The coin is probably lost because it was tossed or dropped. Christ, the one who said, “I am the Good Shepherd,” is the one who comes after the lost sheep. The woman searching for the coin represents us, searching after God, searching for that which we have lost through our inclination to sin… through our choosing to sin.

When a sheep is lost, though, like the pharisees, the Scribes, the Tax Collectors, the sinners…like you and I… it can be difficult to reorient. St. Peter warns, “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith.”

But it is so easy to be distracted. It is so easy to set our eyes on something other than God. How often have we turned them not towards God but towards something that we want? Rather than saying our prayers, we watch that game or catch up on our favorite television show. Or, speaking from my own experience, sleep. Or, buying into the modern heresy of progress, we try to haul ourselves up by our own bootstraps and focus on what we can accomplish, what we can do, and in doing so, we lose sight of God. How often have we turned them against God, looking at someone we don’t like and considering them less than fully human, not seeing the image of God in them? I have walked through the streets of New York, Atlanta, even Racine, and seen the homeless and starving… True, some of them want to be there, and do not want help, but a society which is  able to encourage new three hundred dollar cell phones every year, and thirty thousand dollar weddings should should encourage us to see the image of God in each other. But we see shiny things and we gravitate towards them.

Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross so we could have nice things. Nice vestments, pretty buildings, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Missal, the 1940 Hymnal, coffee hour; these are not the gospel. These are not the truth, nor are they the reason that Jesus gave himself for us.

Christianity is not about feeling good about oneself. It is not about finding inner peace, nor about being nice to one another. Those are all good things, and I think Jesus likes them, but not at the expense of the real reason why Christ came among us.

The Good Shepherd came to find us, lost as we were in this world, and to raise us up that we might find him. But in order to find him, we actually have to look for him. In order to find Jesus, we have to not allow ourselves to be distracted.

You cannot be a Sunday Morning Christian. We cannot say the words of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” and not long for the establishment of the Kingdom; We cannot say, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” if we do not forgive our neighbor; We cannot say, “deliver us from Evil,” and ask God to “incline our hearts to keep this law” if we do not intend conversion of life.

When you receive Jesus this morning in the Sacrament, unite yourself to Him. Let yourself resolve to be salt and light… let us, the Church, resolve to be the Sacrament of the Kingdom. May the light of Christ so fill us and transform us that we may not reveal ourselves, but be icons of Christ. May this parish be a window from this world into the Kingdom.

Let us Pray.

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

 

Homily for the First Sunday after Trinity

A Homily for the First Sunday after Trinity

2 June 2013

Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Pewaukee, WI

Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Eastertide has ended. Christ has risen and ascended, trampling down death by death and rising up into Heaven. He has sent the Holy Ghost upon us, and we have celebrated the Feasts of the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi. We come now to the long green season of Trinity-tide, which will last until Advent Sunday. Trinity Sunday marks a transition of sorts, where we shift from recounting the history of the Life of Christ and re-presenting the events of Holy Scripture to a time of focusing on Life after Pentecost. This is the Life of the Church, a life into which we have been baptized and which we must live out. In a way, you could argue that from Advent to Pentecost, we learn what to believe, and from Trinity to Advent, we learn how to live what we believe, and celebrate the various mysteries of our faith.

So. Having seen that God has loved us and has therefore taken on our flesh… has lived among us… has died in our place, like a common thief… and, still loving us, has resurrected his Son from the dead, sent the Holy Spirit, empowering us to live as Christians and to utilize the sacraments, principally among them, Baptism and the Eucharist. In Baptism we die with Christ and we rise with Him. Through Baptism we are broken off from the world and grafted onto the Body of Christ. What a gift of Grace… Likewise in the Eucharist, we are drawn ever closer and strengthened as we receive Christ under Bread and Wine. So you see a common theme of Love. The Love of God, who is himself the greatest example of Love: the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three Persons in one Being.

We… The Baptized… The Church, being loved, must let that love flow through us. We, ourselves, as Saint John instructs in the Epistle this morning, must love. “Beloved,” he says, “Let us love one another: for love is of God: and every one that loveth is born of God, and and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Indeed, what do we hear every Sunday?

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.

THOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Love of God…. Charity towards one’s neighbor. And my neighbor is not just the person who lives on either side of me, but every soul with whom I come into contact.  And so we see that Christianity is, at its core, about Love and Charity.

Should we therefore love our neighbor? Yes, of course. But loving our neighbor does mean throwing the church’s understanding of Sin out the narthex door. Loving our neighbor does not mean that we no longer acknowledge that the Father of Lies, Satan himself, wants to pull as many of us down with him into Hell as he can. Satan has already lost. He lost at the Incarnation and Resurrection. He knows that. Taking us with him into the pit is all he has left!

My brothers and sisters, DO NOT LET THE DEVIL CONVINCE YOU THAT HE ISNT REAL. He is very real, and so is Hell. Steel yourselves against the enemy. Fortify yourself. It is possible to separate yourself from God for eternity, as we see in the reading from St. Luke. No matter how much we try to relativize sin, no matter how much we tell ourselves that sin doesn’t matter… it does. When we sin, we put our souls in danger. Sin does not go away just because it is politically incorrect, it adds up, and it adds up, and it gets in the way of our relationship with God. It blinds us, and it makes it harder and harder for us to see God working and harder for us to follow Him, and yet it makes it easier and easier to fall to temptation, to succumb to sloth, greed, lust, envy and every other sin. Even more sinister, as Sin adds up, it becomes harder to recognize as Sin. Sometimes we even begin to like and to enjoy sin. Sin corrupts us.

In college, I constantly ran into people who argued that because God is love and because we should love one another, it was wrong to tell someone that they shouldn’t do something or that what they were doing was not acceptable. Turn on the news or read the newspaper, and you will see calls for “tolerance”, “acceptance”, and “love” for any number of things that are not compatible with Christian morals. But the very reason that they are not compatible with Christian morality is because they are intrinsically harmful to the person committing the action.  Sin is not “progress.” Normalizing sin will not lead to a utopia in which all is peaceful and everyone is perfect. Progress… The modern idea of the “super-man” towards which we are supposedly moving, an “enlightened” version of man who has no need for God, but only his own bootstraps, will get us nowhere. Only Christ can redeem us. We can not and will not be able to “go it alone.”

So why do we evangelize? We evangelize in order to bring souls into the loving embrace of the Father; because in loving our neighbor, sometimes we have to tell them that there is a better way. Often times we have to tell ourselves that there is a better way.

Never forget that in order to convert the world, we have to convert ourselves. Never forget that in order the get the speck of dust in our neighbor’s eye, we have to get the log out of ours first. Please, make use of the sacraments. Make your confession. Receive Christ in the Eucharist as often as possible; and immerse yourself in Prayer and in the Word of God. The Prayer Book has a system for reading the Bible. There are four lessons and a selection from the psalms which you can use every day and read most of the Bible each year. Do half of it, and read the Bible every two years. Either way, please use it. You can say the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer on your own, or with each other. If you cannot say the full offices, there are short forms in the back of the Prayer Book. Interject prayer into the little moments of life. Interject it into every moment of life. Pray, as Saint Paul instructs the Thessalonians, Pray without ceasing. Again and again and again, turn to Christ, our King and our God.

Then take what you receive through the sacraments and take it out into the world. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor… as yourself. Show Christ through yourself, to all. Take Christ from this place, this outpost of the Kingdom, and cast the light of Christ into every corner. Plant the seeds of the Kingdom all over your neighborhoods and this neighborhood. Our work is not ended until every single person within reach of this parish knows the love of Jesus Christ.

I appeal to you, therefore, my brothers and sisters, as we proceed into this long, green, season of Trinity-tide, do not grow bored. Do not take for granted the time that you have to grow in Christ; do not take for granted what we may learn and how we may grow from simply going to Mass, saying Morning and Evening Prayer, praying on our own, and letting these form and shape our lives. Like Mary, the virgin-mother of Our Lord, let us with faith follow the path which has been set before us, trusting in God’s Will, not ours. With Peter and Paul, the Apostles, let step forward in faith, ready to be witnesses for Christ in all that we do. Alongside John the Evangelist, may we with Joy and Peace tell all those who do not know Jesus who he is and what he does.

As John Paul II once said,

“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:15-16).”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

 

A Homily for Corpus Christi

A Homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi
30 May 2013
Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Pewaukee, WI

Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

The Eucharist is one of the most misunderstood of Christian practices. Aside from Mary, who is even more maligned than the Eucharist, the average person; will, when questioned, place the Holy Communion as the greatest difference between “Catholics” and “Protestants.” On the surface, they often seem right, because they see “Catholics” as “bread worshippers” who actually believe that the bread and wine become Jesus. On the other hand, they see “protestants” as those sensible Christians who see it as purely memorial. Somehow, we Anglicans get lumped in with either group, depending on the individual’s prejudices and Orthodoxy gets forgotten altogether.

But it truly is more complex than that. Paul tells the familiar story in his first Epistle to the Corinthians. On the night before he died, he took bread and he gave it to his disciples and said, “Take, Eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.” Similarly, he gives them the cup of wine, claiming it as his blood.

Scripture and the Tradition of the Church show that the Eucharist is not merely an act of remembering Jesus. And yet, they do not affirm the Roman Catholic teaching of Transubstantiation. Do not confuse Transubstantion with the Doctrine of the Real Presence. Christ is truly present in the sacrament, truly present on the altar in this very church. But you cannot say that bread and wine cease to exist and that only the Body and Blood of Christ remain.

Just as Christ assumed human nature, so he assumes the physical nature of the eucharistic elements. Just as Jesus Christ was fully man and fully God, so the Host is fully bread and fully Jesus.

As God fed the people of Israel in the desert with Manna, so he now feeds us with the Bread of Heaven. And this is not merely bread, but himself. When we kneel at the altar and receive Jesus, hidden in bread and wine, we receive the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We participate, not in a new sacrifice, nor a repeating sacrifice, but in the “one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction.” We do not exist in a vacuum when we partake of the Eucharist, but are “made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him.” There is one and only one Eucharist, whether here on our altar, or on the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, or the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

So, my brothers and sisters, I invite you, when you come to Mass, come and adore Him. Come and behold the Lamb of God; behold him who taketh away the sins of the world. Happy are they, called to the supper of the lamb, who taste and see… that the Lord is good.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.