Sermons

Summary: Listen to the Spirit saying in our hearts, “you think this is hard to bear? You have not yet begun to feel the effects of sin in your world.”

Tuesday of the 6th Week of Easter 2020

Most of the time we go about our lives without anything big troubling them. In fact, most days we could, if we wished, live our lives as if nothing will ever trouble them. The lack of huge events from outside our own will as we go from day to day means that if we want at such times to see evidence of God’s existence and loving care, we have to look carefully around us and think and decide and then praise and thank the unseen God for all we see. And for all we are able to love.

That may be why there are more atheists today than there were fifty years ago, when we all lived in a society that was nominally Christian, but under the threat of an atheistic power throwing multiple nuclear warheads on our vulnerable heads. I sometimes remember the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when the lines of youngsters outside our school waiting for a priest to hear and absolve them were hundreds of feet long. There are no atheists in foxholes.

Today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles tells of what happened right after Paul and Silas drove an evil, prophetic spirit out of a young slave girl during their first days in Greece. Her owners had made their living out of her, and now that her dignity had been restored, their hope of profit was gone. So they made up stories about Paul and Silas and the authorities allowed the two missionaries to be assaulted. The apostles were thrown into prison, and their jailer had to keep them in jail under penalty of death.

Most of the time the jailer could go about his life without anything big troubling him or his family. This was not such a time, because God’s purpuse could have been thwarted by the apostles’ imprisonment. So during a hymn-filled prayer meeting, God set the angels loose and an earthquake ensued. God’s power threw the cell doors open and caused the shackles of not just Paul and Silas, but all the prisoners, to fall off. The jailer was roused from sleep and, faced with torture and death because of the prison break, was about to slit his own throat when Paul intervened: “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” God had turned everything upside down in His plan.

That was enough for the jailer. He had probably been listening to the hymn singing about Jesus and he asked what he needed to do to attain the salvation they were singing about. Salvation would be his and his family’s, he heard, by belief in Our Lord and baptism into His way. The result was baptism for all his household, which means adults all the way down to the slaves and infants, and joy that lasted the rest of their days. Moreover, when the magistrates heard that God had both caused and stopped the prison break, they ordered the apostles’ release, and even apologized for the imprisonment. No doubt, too, that word of the miracles spread and made the work of evangelization a bit easier in the rest of Macedonia.

That bring us to our situation today. At the first of the year we were pretty fat and happy, enjoying the great Trump economy and looking forward to a continuation of the wonderful age of prosperity. Then the Chinese virus hit us right in the temple and filled the country with fear, and emptied our coffers of uncounted trillions of dollars. Some preachers then called it divine judgement. But God’s judgement and will and mercy are unchanging. His judgement is supposed to act through our consciences, keeping our societies in line with His law laid down for our good. Things go haywire when we ignore the natural law written in our hearts. We have to know something was wrong before the pandemic because our habit of working and shopping mindlessly every day of the week was turned on its head, and our work and our shopping and even our worship were curtailed. We have to know something continued to be totally whacked because Sunday worship was considered non-essential, while in most cases the murder of innocent children was seen to be essential.

We are looking forward to the solemnity of Pentecost–the sending and receiving of the Holy Spirit. The third Person of the Trinity working in the Church tells the truth about sin and what is right and who is judged. He is working right now to change minds and hearts so we see that in so many ways, our secular systems are haywire, our priorities are upside down. We must personally repent of our bad actions and attitudes and work, especially in our parishes, to help people see the truth. Turn around, America and the West, and see what God tells us is good and evil. Change the laws to correspond with His will. Vote out the rascals who promote sexual perversion, exploitation of the poor, murder of the innocent. Listen to the Spirit saying in our hearts, “you think this is hard to bear? You have not yet begun to feel the effects of sin in your world.”

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