Petite Riviere, LaHave – June 28 AD 2009
1 Peter 5:5f
St. Luke 15:1-11
ALL of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…
Humble yourselves…under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time.
This season of
Trinity is about growing in love – love of God and love of our
neighbour. This morning and in the weeks to come we will be looking
at the perfection of our loves.
readings there is a focus on humility. St. Paul says in the
ALL of you be
subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God
resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
How is humility
related to love?
Remember in that
famous passage on love in 1 Cor 13, St. Paul describes love by what
it is not…love
is not boastful, love is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on
its own way.
Back to today’s Epistle,
yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt
you in due time; casting all your care upon him, for he careth for
It seems that
humility is something surprising to us, like that image of Lazarus
we had two Sundays ago – we are to be dependent on another,
dependent upon God.
yourselves…casting all your care upon God, for he careth for you.
To trust in, to
depend upon God is to love him – and we show that dependence when we
pray, when we seek counsel from God’s Word.
which we begin reading this week, near the beginning we read –
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own
insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make
straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord
and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and
refreshment to your bones.
The love of God
is shown in our humbling ourselves before him.
that love of God and love of neighbour are like commandments?
If we are not so
sure what humbling ourselves before God is, we have the very
practical advice today that we are to practice the humbling of
ourselves before our neighbour – that is love too.
ALL of you be
subject one to another, and be clothed with humility.
That is not an
easy thing – it is what makes the monastic life a counsel of
perfection (humbling oneself by bear with and depending upon those
who annoy you - you can't leave them); it is what makes the married
life a counsel of perfection (humbling oneself and depending upon
one’s spouse, not always insisting on your own way); and those of us
who are neither monastics nor married are to practice this counsel
of perfection with all whom we encounter daily, our friends, the
shop clerk, the waitress, the waiter. This is love of neighbour,
this is love of God.
This is one side
of today’s readings – it is not good to be proud – God resists the
proud. If we are always pressing against others, if we feel a heavy
weight on us always, as if even heaven is against us – we need to
ask ourselves, am I a proud soul?
Jesus says, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your
But there is
another side to these readings today – which is really quite
Why is it that
we all seem to have this impulse in us that can lead us to being
proud? Why do we all need to be told, All of you
be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility?
Why do we want
to do things our own way, why do we have impulse in us
to stand out
from the pack?
to leave behind
us easy conformity to what others tell us?
to violate the
very laws of love that God lays down for us, the commandments we are
taught as youth? Why do children and teens rebel? Why did we, why
do we, rebel?
In our Gospel
today, Jesus tells us the parable of the lost sheep and the lost
And Jesus says
something we don’t expect about the lost sheep sought by the
And when he
hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when
he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours,
saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which
was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over
one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and
nine just persons, which need no repentance.
seems like a good thing. Should we sin then, that grace may abound,
that there might be more joy in heaven? No, says St. Paul.
here is the same as we read in the parable of the Prodigal Son –
there is more joy in the father’s response to the son that was lost
and then found than in the son who never strayed but stayed close by
and was obedient.
The sheep that
wandered away from the flock, the prodigal son, is there something
commendable about them?
What were they
seeking, to go off on their own?
something for themselves; they sought individuality; was a desire to
be great, not just like everyone else; is it that they desired much
more? (Oliver - please sir, can I have some more?)
something in this that God loves, and in fact has placed in our
loves Jacob, who wrestles with an angel all night – Tell me your
name! I will not let you go until you give me a blessing! His
presumption, his boldness, is an engagement, a dependence – his
presumption is challenged a bit, the angel dislocates his hip! but
also the angel does bless him and God gives him a name Israel
– he who strives with God!
We can think
about how God especially loves Saul who becomes St. Paul – the
spirit in Saul that desired action, to do the right thing, even
though he was wrong headed, and Jesus has to confront him and blind
him and knock him off his horse to change his direction – Paul’s
desire to do great things is commended, but it must come under the
hand of the Almighty.
Or think of how
God especially loves Mary Magdalene (and how Mary Magdalene
especially loves Jesus) – who was delivered of seven demons, who was
forgiven much and so loves much.
Their desire for
greatness, for so much more, only becomes greatness when St. Paul or
St. Mary submit themselves to the Almighty. When they were outside,
their actions brought destruction – Saul fought the Church, Mary
brought destruction to herself and others – the devil as a roaring
lion seeks whom he may devour – but they are changed and bring about
so much good.
But it doesn’t
require going outside the bounds to bring God joy.
We can think of
God’s servant Job, who reveals perfection not through rebellion and
false repentance but gives God joy for his faithfulness – but Job’s
demands on God are high, but they are met…Job says…
grant two things to me, then I will not hide myself from thy
thy hand far from me, and let not dread of thee terrify me.
call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and do thou reply to
what presumption! And how wonderful that in Job’s fierce testing,
and in his demands, God replies by revealing himself to Job in a
whirlwind and then saying to Job’s false comforters, you have not
spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
Of course we
have the example of St. John the Baptist, who we remember this week,
who even as a boy left to go into the wilderness to seek
wholeheartedly the will of God. Or think of St. Mary, Mother of our
Lord, who as a young woman responded in perfect humility to the high
call of God to bear His Son – when asked by Gabrien she said
immediately, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me
according to thy word.
individuality, non-conformity with the flock – all of these
characteristics are found in the saints in the Church through the
ages, many of whom came to greatness by a profound transformation of
their lives from sin and many others who simply sought a radical
holiness which looked like a leaving of the flock. All humbled
themselves under the mighty hand of God, and God exalted them
all in due time.
And look at the
gentleness of the Shepherd, look at the searching love of the woman
seeking the coin – the Shepherd does not beat that spirited lamb
when he finds it but puts it on his shoulders and carries it home
and calls his friends to rejoice with him; the woman lights a
candle, sweeps the room and diligently seeks it and when she does
she does not sware and blame and stamp on the coin that fell away,
but calls her friends to rejoice with her. And there is joy in
trains dogs knows that you cannot be too hard in discipline or you
will crush the spirit of the dog – take away its bounce. Likewise
with a child – St. Paul says, Fathers, do not provoke your
children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
God would have
us all repent and humbled under the mighty hand of God, but loves
the spirit that strives, would in no way discourage seeking and
asking and knocking on heavens doors – this is the Israel God
loves, it is the love we are to show one another –generous, glad,
joyful searching dependent love – always seeing and hoping for the
possibilities of every human soul whether saint or sinner.
And now, let us
give joy to our Lord and to the angels in heaven as we prepare
ourselves for Holy Communion.
God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory by
Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you
perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and
dominion for ever and ever. Amen.