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The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

D. G. Phillips

Holy Communion

Vogler’s Cove, Crousetown, West Dublin – September 6 AD 2009

Gal 3:16f    St. Luke 10:23f

Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see.  For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

We are going ever more deeply into the life of Christ in Trinity season.  Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see.  We are beginning not just to believe in Jesus but to see, that is, to know Him dwelling within us.

 

And His Spirit is teaching us daily inwardly.  Our ears are being opened to Him.  We are not afraid of his voice of correction inwardly, because we know that mercy is ever stretched out towards us.  Jesus relieves us of all fear of condemnation as we trust in His perfect self-offering. We are listening and hearing because we desire to ascend into the heights of heaven.  I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired…to hear those things which ye hear and have not heard them.

 

The new life we are living includes the promise of seeing Jesus, and of hearing His voice within us.

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Now that these things are happening within us, we are being asked this today to recall what it is that we want in the depths of our heart.  In the words of the Spice Girls - tell me what you want, what you really really want!

 

In the Epistle, this morning, St. Paul reminds us of the promises that were made to Abraham (e.g. Gen 12 and 17).  Listen to them because they are promises to us too...

            I will make your name great.

            In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them…so shall your descendants be.

I will make you exceedingly fruitful.

I will give to you, and your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings…for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.

 

St. Paul describes in Hebrews what it is that Abraham wanted:

He looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God…they [that is, those ancient men and women of faith] desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.  [Heb 11:10, 16]

 

I hope this is what you really really want, the kingdom of heaven, even now, not just in some future life, but everlasting life beginning now – Greatness, glory, to be exceedingly fruitful, to have others blessed by knowing you, to have an eternal place that you can call your home, to have and to hold God, the promise of spiritual marriage to God?  I will be your God!

 

Is this not what you really really want?  I hope so!

 

Well, how do we get what we want?

 

A clever lawyer, in the Gospel today, asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life – He is speaking about receiving the promises made to Abraham. 

 

Jesus asks him what Moses said we must do – love God with all that you are and love your neighbour as yourself.  Jesus says, “Yes, this do and thou wilt live.”

 

The Lawyer, recognizing the impossibility, quickly tries to qualify and limit love, And who is my neighbour?

 

So Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

 

You know it well – the priest and the Levite both teachers of the Law of Moses, and servants in the Temple, pass by a man in distress, and it is the outsider, the Samaritan, who stops and helps – he is the one who is neighbour to the man in distress, he is the one who shows mercy – and Jesus says, Go and do thou likewise.

 

Knowing the Law of Moses, which describes something of the breadth of what love is, did not help the priest and Levite in doing the Law of Moses, in loving, it just shows up their hard hearts.

 

As St. Paul says, If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law, But the Scripture (that is, the Law and the Prophets) hath concluded all under sin (the Law merely shows us our unrighteousness but does not bring us into the kingdom of heaven, it does not give us a new heart, it does not fulfill the promises made to Abraham but that) promise [is] by faith of Jesus Christ… [it is] given to them that believe (as it was to Abraham who lived 430 years before the giving of the Law).

 

We don’t want a religion that ends with do this and don’t do that, trust me.  We want to be inheritors now of the new kingdom – with new hearts and minds, our faith turned to understanding.  In the Old Covenant, Moses was the mediator between God and the people - that was what the people wanted - Moses, you speak to God and tell us what he says.  But we want a closer union - we want our Mediator to be God - and this is precisely who Jesus is for us - and we, in uniting with Him, become like Moses, mediators of the covenant to the nations, a blessing to all peoples.  Jesus is promising the fulfillment of our wants even now.

Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see.  For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

But what is it we’re seeing, what is it we are hearing?

 

We’re looking inward, we’re not afraid of the voice of the Spirit calling us to be holy.  We’re not afraid of the continual introspection of our every act and word and thought, we bring them continually before Christ, and know ourselves more and more to be that man who has suffered violence, who “fell among thieves – the world the flesh and the devil – which stripped him of his raiment – our noble character, our being made in the image and likeness of God – wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  We know ourselves to be that man.  We also know more and more that it was not some valiant effort on our part that has enabled us to get up out of the ditch and heal ourselves, but rather Christ, the Good Samaritan, who has come to our rescue, bearing our burden, and restoring us in His Church day by day with word and sacrament.

 

Our faith that this is the case, is changed, the more we look inwardly, into knowledge.  Our hard hearts are melted, not by our knowledge of the Law, but by our knowledge and love of Jesus.

 

And as we come to know and love Jesus, all our spiritedness is being released towards the love of our neighbour as ourselves.  We are able to go and do likewise, because Jesus has gone before us and done likewise in us.

 

And what we want, what we really really want, is being given to us…we are inheritors even now.

 

And through us the nations are being blessed.

And we are becoming more and more fruitful, and will become exceedingly fruitful in this life and in the life to come.

And we are becoming possessors of our own souls, which is our homeland, an eternal inheritance…whose builder and maker is God.

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called [our] God. 

Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service: Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life [that is, keeping always in mind what Christ has done for us], that we fail not finally to attain [even in this life] thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Collect for Trinity XIII

 

 

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