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Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Holy Communion

West LaHave, Crousetown, Cherry Hill – August 3 AD 2008

1 Cor 15:1f    St. Luke 18:9f


His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain.


As we mature in the Christian life, we begin to see more and more clearly all the ways that love, our desire, is being spent.  We see habits in the soul, ways of acting and thinking – some of them good and grace filled – a habit of love, and some of them still in need of reform. 


Jesus shows us what is true glory, he shows us what to hope for, what to do with our anger, and greed and so on – that our love, our desire, might reach its true end – love of God and love of our neighbour.


And last week we were reminded that with a degree of self control, by grace, our souls are more ready to receive from God divine communication – revelation from God beyond what we learn from studying the Scriptures or studying the world that God created.  In Christ, God pours out His Spirit upon all flesh.

the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge …; to another faith …to another the gifts of healing … to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. 


God speaks to individuals – as God spoke to Abraham and Sarah, to Moses, to the prophets and prophetesses of the Old Testament, so He speaks to St. Mary, to St. Paul and He promises to speak with us.


We were encouraged last week to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by praying, and we were given the hope that as we pray, we too might hear ever more clearly the Spirit of God praying in our hearts.


But to what end?  What will happen as God’s grace is poured out upon us?



In our daily readings the past few weeks we have been following the story of the establishing of the kingdom of Israel under David and then under Solomon his son.


We read about David being anointed King by God and finally receiving the kingdom, entering into the city of Jerusalem triumphant – and then, having been given the kingdom and peace on all sides, he looks across the courtyard to what he cannot have – Bathsheba, and desires her.  He commits adultery, then murders her husband to try to cover up when she become pregnant.  His unfaithfulness to God inwardly is reflected outwardly in this violence and then in divisions that erupt in his family and finally in the whole kingdom is brought low with civil war.


We followed next the life of Solomon, who was gifted with wisdom beyond every other person and the kingdom of Israel flourishes under his leadership.  But then, he stops listening to the advice of others, is unfaithful in worship, and the kingdom again upon his death falls into two – civil war breaks out – the earthly kingdom of Israel never recovers to this height of size and wealth.


How will we respond to the divine communication that we are promised in our lives as followers of Jesus, as Christians?


What will happen to us as God gifts us as we practice the spiritual disciplines – prayer, fasting, almsgiving – as our lives become more ordered, as He recreates us by His Word? and as we are in-filled with special gifts – a word of wisdom, with a word of knowledge, and so on.



In the Gospel today Jesus shows us a religion gone awry.


He sees the Pharisees around him who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” 


The Pharisee prayed with himself – listing his accomplishments in the religious life and at the same time despising his neighbour.


The whole purpose of any spiritual disciplines is to dispose our hearts to being in-filled with the Holy Ghost, with love – and the sign that our religious practices and observances are authentic, is when our love grows for God and our neighbours – there is no other purpose, no other end.


We have a temptation to want to say OK, I’ve made it now, thanks God, here I’ll stand, I’ve loved enough.


If we need to recover a sense of reality about what is the perfect life of love, we don’t look around to how we are doing in relation to others, we look at the evangelical perfection of the life of Jesus [Aquinas].  Keep God in the flesh before our minds, and we will remain humble like the Publican.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  [Mt 5:48]

Jesus words to the rich man who thought himself righteous (who professed to follow all the commandments except was blind to covetousness) If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [Mt 19:21]

Jesus says, The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. [Lu 6:40]  Don’t hold anger in your heart - it is like committing murder.  If you lust after a woman in heart you have committed adultery…[Matt 5]


The Publican, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast saying, God be merciful unto me a sinner.


Jesus didn’t tell us this parable to make us feel bad about ourselves.  But just as the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, almsgiving are not an end in themselves, something to take pride in, so the spiritual discipline of humbling ourselves, of abasing ourselves before God is not an end in itself. 

We practice humbling ourselves before God, to be real, to be honest before God – so that He may exalt us – lift us up.  I tell you, says Jesus, he that humbleth himself shall [not may] be exalted.

What is it to be exalted – to be lifted up into the divine life, to be filled with all the fullness of God, who is love.


Moses was spoken to in a burning bush, not so he could become a great leader as an end in itself, but that he might help reveal God’s love to Israel.


Mary is adored by us, not because she exalted herself, but because God regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden – Love became incarnate of her flesh – and behold, all generations now call her blessed.


Paul is remembered by us, not because of his righteous life as a Pharisee, following all the religious observances, but because he remained honest about who he was and responded to the grace that was poured out upon him in love for God and his fellow man…

I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain [not to build up himself]; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  and it was a labour of love.


How have we responded to the grace of God that has been poured out on us, or more importantly, how will we respond to the grace of God that will be poured out on us today and tomorrow and the next day?


Have we taken time to discern the gifts that are being given us:

Now there are diversities of gifts… of administrations,… of operations, …But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 


Are we called to the contemplative life or to the active life or to a bit of both?

And what is your particular gift?  How will we use that gift this week?  Will we use it to build up ourselves or to build up the Body of Christ?

O GOD, who declarest thy almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

[The Collect for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity]



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