Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
It is a very important Sunday today. It is the 1st holy communion for four of our new members. They have begun their journey of faith – being Born Again yesterday through baptism. We want to feed them right away on the bread from Heaven. New children born, feed them right away! They will be served first today! Everything in our journey of faith is centred around Christ and His table. – think Rev. 13:8
This is the first Sunday for our new members. They were sealed yesterday with the Holy Spirit. Today we share the Lord’s body and blood as members of each other in a new way.
As we come to the Gospel lesson today … it is very appropriate for this particular Sunday. Christ had just taught about forgiveness. Let us take a look at it:
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
He specifically say, sins against you. Some small offence as some translations have it. Any sin against us is small in comparison to sin against God. God will judge that and we are simply to admonish once and then keep away from such persons – Tit 3:10
Cyril of Alexandria (375–444; fl. 412–444). Patriarch of Alexandria (Egypt) whose writings are characterised by a strong teaching of the unity of Christ.
Let us remember that we also are liable to infirmities and being overpowered by our passions. This being the case, we pray that those who have the duty to rebuke us, and who have the authority to punish us, may show themselves forgiving and kind to us. It is our duty, having a common feeling for our mutual infirmities, to bear one another’s burdens, so we will fulfill the law of Christ.1
St. Luke 17:5-10 – my goodness, that seems impossible, we don’t have that in us … so they also ask, “Increase our Faith”.
The anointing of yesterday is specifically important for the power to have faith through the Holy Spirit. You know, faith is a gift of God. – no one can boast! “no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” . Faith is not something we can come up with – it is a gift. “Faith, Hope and Love …”, of course the greatest is Love – hence our lesson on forgiveness.
So “all things are possible for him who believes” not in his own ability, but by God. St Paul even gives a list in 1 Corinthians ….So – the Apostles received this increased faith at Pentecost of course! We, with the anointing of the Holy Spirit as yesterday we received it.
Ever thought about this? What in the world does the illustration our Saviour uses have to do with increasing faith?
The short answer …
Well, just a minute, we have more than one assignment on earth, while we wait eagerly for our Saviour’s return. We are called servants of the Most High God. A generation of Kings and Priests, which are also servants of people. There is no time during our tenure (time) before heaven that we are free to be lords.
As we’ve begun to learn and experience …obedience is the way down to the heights of heaven. We obey our Lord; we obey each other and we obey the rulers and authorities over us.
Ambrose of Milan (c. 333–397; fl. 374–397). Bishop of Milan and teacher of St Augustine. He defended the divinity of the Holy Spirit and the perpetual virginity of Mary.
Know that you are a servant overwhelmed by very much obedience. You must not set yourself first, because you are called a son of God. Grace must be acknowledged, but nature not overlooked. Do not boast of yourself if you have served well, as you should have done. The sun obeys, the moon complies, and the angels serve.…Let us not require praise from ourselves nor prevent the judgment of God and anticipate the sentence of the Judge but reserve it for its own time and Judge.2
The lesson today is Humility …Well, everyday that is to be our learning
St John Chrysostom (344/354–407; fl. 386–407). Bishop of Constantinople was noted for his orthodoxy, his eloquence and his attacks on Christian laxity in high places.
“He said, “When you have done everything, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants,’ ” to warn them in his wish that they keep themselves at great distance from that destructive passion. Dearly beloved, see how the person with his mouth open for human glory and performing the works of virtue on that account has no benefit from it. Despite practising every example of virtue, if he seems to give himself credit for it, he ends up empty-handed and bereaved of everything.3
In other words, “We lose the reward if we gain the glory now …” as Jesus himself tells us in St Matthews gospel Ch 6
So for us, here today and through our lives …There is only ever, our increasing humility – in the hope that one day we may be as Christ, – who humbled himself to death, even the death of a cross. Who also rose in new life to a heavenly home. Christ came as a servant of all, St Paul writes similar thing we have read in the daily lesson on Friday. If by some chance we may win souls by our obedience.
As we look the Table this morning for sustenance on the journey, let us be ever looking for opportunities to increase our faith – doing our part to pursue humility, serving one another, in love. Lot’s of opportunity as we rub together here …
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
~ Rev. Fr. Pat
1 Thomas C. Oden and Arthur A. Just Jr., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture New Testament III (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 266
2 Ibid, 267
3 Ibid, 267
Christ with the Apostles, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57158 [retrieved March 18, 2020]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Catedral_S%C3%A3o_Francisco_Xavier_(Joinville,_Brasil)_38.JPG.