Special Collection for the Arundel Cathedral Maintenance Fund THIS Sunday
Dear Brothers and Sisters
There is a slightly jokey saying, and, I believe, a bumper sticker in the USA which says “Look busy, Jesus is coming!” This tongue in cheek joke, however, reminds us that there is a serious side to our faith. We believe that Jesus “… will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” according to the Creed. The implication being that His judgement has some bearing on our lives as we live them now. St Paul writes about “that Day,” as he calls it, and says that he won’t judge himself but leave it to the “just judge” who can see into the mind and the heart and judge “secret emotions” but, also, that he had a clear conscience because he had always striven to do and say and think the right things. In other words, no need for Paul to “look” busy because Jesus is coming. He is busy and has always been so in the service of the Kingdom.
Some people think of ‘this life’ as a sort of rehearsal, or training, for the life to come. Jesus often implies that our attitudes in this life need to be conformed to the values of the Kingdom of God – of the world to come – think of the Beatitudes for example. These are not just pious hopes for a better world but an indication that those who choose to live out the values, we might even say the “lifestyle” in modern parlance, of the Kingdom of God are those who will be ready for it when that “Day” eventually arrives. So, it will be the merciful, the peacemakers, the humble of heart, the gentle, the long suffering for truth and justice those who publicly acknowledge Jesus whatever the consequences, who will know the Kingdom of God because they already live it out. For them there is no fear of judgement or punishment because, acting from good consciences, they have tried to model the kingdom in the here and now, often at great personal cost.
So, I suppose the question for us all is – are we living as if we expect the Kingdom of God at any moment? Or are we relying on an early warning to wake us up so we can ‘look busy?’ If we were to try to live the values of the Kingdom today what impact would that have on our lives, and those of people we loved and those who are our neighbours? Are the values of the Kingdom values we would like to see around us in others too? What would happen if a larger and larger number of people started to live out the Beatitudes? If our parish community started to look a bit more “alternative” to the ways of the world might we start to see a bit more interest from the stranger and the outcast?
All good questions! For myself, I know that I don’t yet, by any means, qualify as a person who routinely lives out the Beatitudes, and for this I must repent and seek to convert myself more and more to Christ – which I can only do by opening myself up more and more to the action of grace which perfects our human nature and makes us ready to be saints. However, first, I must choose to follow Christ more earnestly and completely and selflessly and actually desire that he become the Lord of my life. The King of his kingdom in my life.
Think of it this way – the Rector of the Anglican Church used a story of a pious and holy monk who wanted to change the world (to be more like the Kingdom) but who found that he couldn’t – so he set his sights a little lower – first his country, then his town, then his family and then eventually, just himself. It was when he got to himself that he realised that all things must start from where I am – I am the one who needs converting first, then my family might notice, then my neighbours; my town might notice something going on and be inspired and they in turn might change the nation and then finally the nation might just change the world. So, this Advent let us put Christ first. Let us use Advent to put Christ into Christmas too. But let us all seek to be more like Christ in our own lives first.
With my very best wishes, Fr David.
There will be a CAFOD Memorial Mass in Cranleigh on Friday 23rd November to remember those who supported CAFOD and made the world a better place. Please join this Mass and the refreshments which will follow.
Care Group Meeting 30th November 11am in the parish room at Cranleigh