Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Sermon for 22nd Sunday in Ordianry Time

In the light of the latest Swine Flu panic and guidelines having been issued by the Bishop's Conference about Holy Water in church etc We could think that Our Lord is simply trying to offer us some hygiene rules. However, I think there is more to this than meets the eye. I think we are in the realms of Christian anthropology, that is what Christians do or should believe about themselves as human beings.
Let’s start this overview with the obvious statement that there are a whole range of opinions from the utterly negative to the utterly positive. Before coming to the middle where the Universal Church finds herself, I want to look very quickly at the extremes.
Martin Luther and the Continental reformers believed that mankind is irrevocably flawed and sinful, capable of nothing good whatever on its own. “Corrupt” and “depraved” were words Luther used often. It is a very depressing point of view. We know Luther suffered badly with depression caused by piles and constant constipation!!! He could not bring himself to say that Christ changed all that, but said that the Saviour merely overlaid our underlying sinfulness with His own righteousness. He famously described salvation as snow covering a dung heap. You can see why Catholics have not gone down this road, as it is too hard and depressing point of view. It does not allow for art and music and literature as good things and makes too much of wars and crime.
On the other hand, England’s only home grown heresy goes to the opposite extreme. A priest called Pelagius said that we are all really very good chaps and chappesses. All we have to do to get to heaven is to try hard. He reduced the work of Christ on our behalf to just setting a good example for us to follow. Pelagianism is still rife today. It is overly positive about human beings, making too much of our abilities and paying too little attention to the reality of sin and human folly.
Jesus is particularly against this latter view in this gospel. Evil things, He says, come out of the human heart and defile a man. We do not acquire that heart later in life, but are born with it. Innocent thought they are in the crib, babies have the potential for evil as well as good in them. However, Christ came to address the problem of human weakness and sinful deeds. We are capable of good, but we cannot reach heaven without Him.
And that brings us round to the washing of cups and pots after all, for washing in water is precisely what we need for salvation. The human will is damaged but not irreparably. Grace is a real power to change and improve our lives. In Holy Baptism, God not only declares us just, but begins in that very instant the process of sanctification. He cleanses the heart little be little and forgives what emerges from it to defile us. Understand now, why He pronounces blessed the pure in heart. We are not to be overly confident, nor are we to be overly depressed about human beings, but above all, we must look to God for His grace to raise us to heavenly glory. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Father for the prompt response to the sermons being made available online.

God Bless

Fr. Francis Wadsworth said...

Thank you!!! There is no gusrantee I will always be this prompt. Homilies will appear as and when I remember. You might need t ogive me a reminder from time to time.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha I was commenting on last weeks not todays!! But thanks all the same.

Ok I will do.