Lent 2020: Prayer, Fasting, Mercy

There are three things by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.

When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

—Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 43

2020: Abbess Egeria Describes Fasting in 4th-Century AD Jerusalem During Lent

When the season of Lent is at hand, it is observed in the following manner. Now whereas with us the forty days preceding Easter are observed, here they observe the eight weeks before Easter. This is the reason why they observe eight weeks: On Sundays and Saturdays they do not fast, except on the one Saturday which is the vigil of Easter, when it is necessary to fast. Except on that day, there is absolutely no fasting here on Saturdays at any time during the year. And so, when eight Sundays and seven Saturdays have been deducted from the eight weeks—for it is necessary, as I have just said, to fast on one Saturday—there remain forty-one days which are spent in fasting, which are called
here “eortae,” that is to say, Lent.

This is a summary of the fasting practices here during Lent. There are some who, having eaten on Sunday after the dismissal, that is, at the fifth or the sixth hour [11:00am or noon], do not eat again for the whole week until Saturday, following the dismissal from the Anastasis [site of the cross]. These are the ones who observe the full week’s fast. Having eaten once in the morning on Saturday, they do not eat again in the evening, but only on the following day, on Sunday, that is, do they eat after the dismissal from the church at the fifth hour [11:00am] or later. Afterwards, they do not eat again until the following Saturday, as I have already said. Such is their fate during the Lenten season that they take no leavened bread (for this cannot be eaten at all), no olive oil, nothing which comes from trees, but only water and a little flour soup. And this is what is done throughout Lent.

Pilgrimage, 27-28

Lent 2020: Fasting as a Lenten Discipline

The season of Lent with its emphasis on self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study, and preparation for Easter is quickly approaching. One of the Lenten disciplines I commend to you this year is fasting. But there is a lot of misunderstanding about fasting and so I offer you some great insights from Dr. Scot McKnight’s excellent book, Fasting: The Ancient Practices. Hear him now:

Fasting is a person’s whole-body, natural response to life’s sacred moments (p. xii).

St. Athanasius, one of the architects of Christian orthodoxy, knew the formative powers of the sacred rhythms of the church calendar. That calendar weaved in and out of mourning over sin (fasting) and celebrating the good grace of God (feasting). “Sometimes,” he says of the church calendar, “the call is made to fasting, and sometimes to a feast [like every Sunday when we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection].”

…St. Augustine took fasting into a another area of formation. One way for Christians to find victory over temptation, St. Augustine reminded his readers, was to fast. Why? Because it is sometimes necessary to check the delight of the flesh in respect to licit [not forbidden or lawful] pleasures in order to keep it from yielding to illicit pleasures.

These two themes—fasting as a sacred rhythm in the church calendar and fasting as a discipline against sinful desires—are perhaps the most important themes of fasting in the history of Christian thinking (p. xv).

Dr. McKnight offers his own excellent definition of fasting:

Fasting is the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment in life (e.g., death, sin, fear, threats, needs, sickness). Does it bring results? Yes, but that’s not the point of fasting. Those who fasted in response to grievous sacred moments frequently—but not always!—received results, like answered prayer. But focusing on the results causes us to misunderstand fasting entirely.

Which leads us now to see fasting in an A —> B —> C framework. If one wants to see the full Christian understanding of fasting, one must begin with A, the grievous sacred moment (e.g., death, sin, fear, threats, needs, sickness). That sacred moment generates a response (B), in this case fasting. Only then, only when the sacred moment is given its full power, does the response of fasting generate the results (C)—and then not always, if truth be told. [So, e.g., in response to sin we fast and can receive forgiveness.]

What we are getting at here is very important: fasting isn’t a manipulative tool that guarantees results. The focus in our deepest Christian tradition is not moving from column B to column C but the A —> B movement. Fasting is a response to a sacred moment, not an instrument designed to get desired results. The focus in the Christian tradition is not “if you fast you will get,” but “when this happens, God’s people fast [emphasis added] (pp. xviii-xix).

Dr. McKnight develops these ideas in the subsequent chapters of his book and I wholeheartedly commend it to you for your edification. As always, it is critically important for us as Christians to know why we do what we do. This pertains to worship and the various spiritual disciplines, fasting included. Therefore, this Lent I encourage you to fast regularly as a means to help you become a more Christ-oriented person and to live a cruciform (cross-shaped) life.

To purchase Dr. McKnight’s book on fasting, click this link.

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday 2020

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and ever. Amen.

A Third-Century Church Father Offers Practical Advice About Praying

As we near the season of Lent with its emphasis on self-examination, repentance, and prayer, here is some very practical advice on the latter from one of the early Church Fathers, Origen of Alexandria (d. 254AD). Notice his emphasis on the whole person, body included, in prayer. May his writing help you in your own praying, during Lent and at other times.

It seems to me that those who are about to come to prayer, if they withdraw and prepare themselves for a little while, will be more earnest and attentive in regard to their prayer as a whole. They should put aside every kind of distraction and disturbance of mind, and recollect as far as possible the greatness of God to whom they come, and that it is a sacrilege to approach God lightly and carelessly and with a kind of disdain; and they should cast off all alien thoughts. Thus ought they to come to prayer, as it were stretching out the soul before the hands, and directing the mind to God before the eyes, and raising up from the ground the reason and making it to stand toward the Lord of all. All malice toward anyone who appears to have wronged them they should cast aside insofar as they wish God to bear no malice toward themselves, since they have injured and sinned against many a neighbor, or else are conscious of deeds of various kinds that they have committed contrary to right reason. Neither ought they to doubt that, as there are countless attitudes [position] of the body, that attitude in which the hands are stretched out and eyes lifted up is to be preferred to all others, since the body brings to prayer the image, as it were, of the qualities suitable to the soul. We mean, however, that these attitudes should be given preference unless an obstacle opposes. For where there is an obstacle it is permissible on an occasion to pray suitably in a sitting position, on account of a disease of the feet that may not be disregarded, or even lying down, through fever or some such sickness. And also, on account of circumstances, if we are sailing, let us say, or if our business does not allow us to withdraw and offer the prayer that is due, it is permitted to pray without even seeming to do so.
And as for kneeling, that it is necessary when one is about to accuse oneself of one’s sins before God, supplicating him for healing therefrom and for forgiveness thereof, it ought to be known that it is a symbol of one who is abject and submissive. Paul says: ‘‘For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” Spiritual kneeling, so named because every creature falls down before God “in the name of Jesus” and humbles itself before him, appears to me to be indicated in the words: ‘‘That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth.”

Origen, Treatise on Prayer 31, 11, 549-552

Father Philip Sang: Transfiguration Time

Sermon delivered on Transfiguration Sunday A, February 23, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

Father Sang has turned over a new leaf in preparation for Lent. He has actually produced a manuscript for his sermon, which you can read below. To listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Exodus 24.12-18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1.16-21; St. Matthew 17.1-9.

May the words of my mouth and meditation of our hearts be acceptable to you oh Lord our rock and our redeemer, in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit Amen

A teacher in a Sunday school class was reading the story of the Transfiguration. As she read, she noticed one little boy seemed confused.

When she was finished she asked him, “Johnny, why don’t you tell us where Jesus was in this story. He replied, “Oh, he was on a mountain.”

“Yes, that’s right; said the teacher, “Do you remember why he was up there?” Johnny answered with a confused look, “I guess that’s where his arithmetic class was held .”

” The teacher looked at him and wondered what he meant. “What do you mean, arithmetic class?” “Well” Johnny replied, “The Bible said, ’Jesus went up on the mountain and there he BEGAN TO FIGURE ” ’ The teacher smiled and said,”The scripture said, He went into the mountain and there He BECAME TRANSFIGURED NOT BEGAN TO FIGURE. “

It is Transfiguration Time.

Jesus walked with his disciples as he taught them. He explained over and over what was to happen to him and what they would need to do. They witnessed his miracles: the healings, the feedings, his words of grace and love to the sinners and to the broken.

It sounds pretty straight forward, right? I think we imagine we would be smarter or pay better attention or just listen more carefully than the disciples if Jesus were speaking with us.

If we were those disciples, we’d surely understand about him asking us to leave our families and our lives to follow him…as Father Santosh preached a couple of weeks ago, that doesn’t seem too hard to understand.

So, let’s make believe, just for a moment or two, that we are one of those disciples in today’s gospel story. I’d like you to try, if you can, to actually picture yourself with Jesus that day. Walking up the side of the high mountain, listening to him as you always did. Picture this in your mind. Close your eyes if you need to. You and Jesus, walking up the mountain, listening to him talk about God’s Kingdom and how you will be part of it.

How do you feel? Are you confident? Excited? Are you scared? Are you thinking of going back down the hill? You are busy talking, listening, tired from the climb and then in Matthews words, “he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”

How would you have experienced this? We can read the words that explain Jesus’ change in appearance but how in the world would you, if you were standing there, understand this? Jesus’ clothing shining dazzling white and Elijah and Moses there with him?

Thinking about this I’ve had more empathy for Peter recently. After trying to place myself directly into this gospel story, I totally understand why he was trying to do something. If you don’t understand something, just start being functional, right? He is scared and he says awkwardly to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Mark’s account adds, “He did not know what to say, for they were terrified”.

This, I imagine, was the reality of being a follower of Jesus. Moments of amazement and joy at the miracles and thoughts of a new kingdom where the last would be the first, the meek would inherit the earth and those who were persecuted for the sake of righteousness would claim the kingdom of God; followed closely by intense times of confusion and terror of the unknown. Peter has experienced these two feelings at the same time before and here he is again. Wanting to be helpful, trying to care for the temporal needs of Jesus and much to his amazement Elijah and Moses but knowing somehow that something has changed. Something is different, something important has just happened here and although he doesn’t seem to recognize it, something has also begun to happen to Peter.

There is just no way one could, no way you could, no way I could, be the same after experiencing Transfiguration Time.

Transfiguration is classically defined as: a : a change in form or appearance : METAMORPHOSIS

b : an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change

What I have wondered, what I have pondered and what I have imagined is: Who was actually changed in this experience? Was Jesus different after this encounter with the Holy? Matthew says. ”Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

It appears that after this announcement, after Elijah and Moses left the scene, it is simply Jesus with them again. Did Jesus change or was he always God’s son, God’s beloved?

I would like to suggest that it was in fact the disciples with him that day that began to be transfigured or began their metamorphosis that day.

The time for being confused and terrified had to soon come to an end. As those who would have to carry on the ministry of Jesus to bring this new Kingdom of God to fruition as the Church, it was time to know to whom they were committing their lives, to whom they all belonged and that they now were also the beloved children of God.

There is just no way one could, no way you could, no way I could, be the same after experiencing this, transfiguration time.

Transfiguration Sunday is right before Ash Wednesday and the church’s season of Lent because it marks a final turning point in this metamorphosis of the disciples. In the next weeks they will walk with Jesus on his journey toward Jerusalem and the cross. They will understand the peril they will face, that their own ends will not be any better than Jesus’. They will share in his passion, struggle to understand why they agreed to follow him in the first place, deny knowing him, and then try to be able to comprehend his resurrection and their part in this Good News that would be shared to the four ends of the earth.

Transfiguration Time

a : a change in form or appearance : METAMORPHOSIS

b : an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change It was them who were transfigured that day. A metamorphosis, a spiritual change. There was no going back, no being the same after experiencing this, transfiguration time.

Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:16-18

“…we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the

Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son,

whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from

heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”

I wonder though, getting back to us, to you and to me, if you were with Jesus that day, saw him with his clothes shining brighter than anyone could bleach them, standing with Elijah and Moses. What would you have done?

In what way would you begin to be transfigured, to begin a metamorphosis, to start to be spiritually changed? In what way have you already traveled with Jesus and changed so much that there is no turning back, no being the same after experiencing this?

Do you have an idea of how you might travel with Jesus during this season of Lent and to share in his Passion, to understand the highs and the lows of being a follower of Jesus today?

This is the heart of the matter: Each of our lives is different. Not all are called to serve God in the same way BUT all who have seen the bright light of the North Star or the shining garments of God’s beloved, all who experience transfiguration time, are in fact called to follow that light and in fact to BECOME that light for others. I’d like to leave you with that thought today.

Over these next weeks of Lent moving toward Holy Week and Easter, how will you personally reflect this Epiphany light in your world?

Start today, start where you can and remember… there will be no turning back, no being the same after experiencing this transfiguration time.

In the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit Amen

Creation Matters

Sermon delivered on the 2nd Sunday before Lent A, February 16, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Genesis 1.1-2.3; Psalm 136; Romans 8.18-25; St. Matthew 6.25-34.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

We normally follow the Revised Common Lectionary for our weekly Scripture lessons but today I am using the Church of England’s lectionary because the lessons focus on creation. Why do I want us to focus on creation? Because most Christian denominations, at least those in the West, have done a pathetic job in teaching their people about why creation matters. So this morning, I will add to the carnage. No wait! That’s not right. I meant to say that I want us to start working on developing (or refining) our creational theology because creation and its redemption is one of, if not the, central themes of the Bible.

Our OT lesson, which is emphatically not a science lesson so please don’t try to make it what it isn’t, tells us the beautiful story of how God created this entire universe out of nothing. In each of the six creational periods, whatever they were, however long or short they took, we see God creating out of nothing and imposing order on the chaos of uncreation. After each creational period, the author tells us that God declared that particular activity to be good. With the imposition of God’s created order over the chaos of uncreation, we see God creating so that the living things he created had the ability to procreate and in each instance, God tells the living creatures, whether they be land- or sea-bearers, to be fruitful and multiply. Notice carefully the complementary binary nature of all creation: light and darkness, night and day, land and sea, heaven and earth, male and female, irrespective of species. And then finally God creates humans in God’s image, male and female (there’s that binary nature again) to—you guessed it: be fruitful and multiply so we could subdue, i.e., bring further order to the earth, and rule the earth on God’s behalf. That’s why God’s creativity reaches its climax when God created humans in his image. Humans are to play a central and essential role in God’s creation: We were created to rule in the manner of God. We can also read Genesis 1 as the story of God building his cosmic temple (the universe) and then placing his image-bearers in his temple to rule things wisely, i.e., when we serve in creation we serve in God’s temple. As we will see, St. Paul and our Lord Jesus himself tell us essentially the same thing in our epistle and gospel lessons respectively. To sum up our OT lesson, we can say that God created creation (including its creatures) good, i.e., creation matters to God, and God intends creation to be beautiful, life-giving, and sustaining, as well as orderly. But this can only happen to the extent humans, God’s image-bearing creatures, imitate God’s goodness, justice, and love to impose God’s good order on his creation.

So how should our creational theology (the study of God’s creation and intention for it) be shaped by all this? I don’t have the time to plumb the depths of this question (but you should) nor do I suggest there is a rigidly uniform theology that all Christians must follow. Having said that, there are some definite patterns and themes to which we must pay attention if we are going to live faithfully as God’s image-bearers. The first and most obvious component of Christian creational theology is that we must all be environmentalists and advocate for the wise care of God’s creation and its resources. After all, God has promised to redeem his creation. Why should we not care for it wisely on his behalf? This doesn’t mean we are tree huggers because we don’t believe God is in the trees. But we do believe God made the trees for God’s good creative purposes and our enjoyment, and therefore we must be wise in how we use (or don’t use them). Likewise with coal and gas and other forms of energy. Likewise with what and how much of something we consume because the commodities we consume have their origin in God’s creation and what we put or don’t put in our bodies is important because our bodies belong to God, not us (1 Cor 6.13). We are not to rape the land like we did in strip mining but nor are we not to use resources if doing so would impede our human flourishing. There are no easy answers to this issue of (non)usage and here again we must be wise and seek balance in our decisions, considering what the rest of Scripture, especially the gospel, has to say about being good stewards. This is why Christians have always advocated for education and the sciences as well as the arts and humanities. Most of the earliest modern scientists were Christians. They and their disciplines have helped us explain how and why things work, how to better our standard of living and the way we manage health and well-being; they’ve helped us explore the nature of beauty and truth in music, the arts, and literature, all for the purpose of human flourishing. Creation matters to God. It had better matter to us and these disciplines can help us be faithful stewards of God’s world. Of course, theology is important as well because good theology, studied and practiced together, helps us better understand God’s revelation to us and what God considers to be faithful image-bearing stewardship.

Our creational theology must also guide our thinking about love and sex. While our culture tells us today that sex is primarily about pleasure and our goal should be to seek as much pleasure as we can, this is not the reason God gave his living creatures sexual desires and instincts. God gave us sex to procreate so that we could rule his good creation wisely and in an orderly fashion. To do that, God gave us marriage and the family in which to enjoy sex and procreate. This theme is developed further in the second creation narrative found in Gen 2, especially Gen 2.18-25. Here we find the beautiful story and theology of how God created woman from the rib of man and the kind of equal and intimate yoking that stemmed from God’s creative activity, completing God’s image in humans. Again, notice the binary pairing involved here: man and woman coming together as husband and wife to enjoy sexual intimacy and union for the purposes of creating the family unit, the primary unit by which God intends humans to organize, so that we can rule God’s creation wisely and on his behalf. Whenever humans follow God’s created order for sexual activity and family, we find flourishing and thriving. When that order is not followed, we witness the chaos and disorder that arise from ungodly unions and human-constructed attempts to form families not in accordance with God’s creative will. The effects of divorce and family disruption, for example, not to mention fatherless homes, are well-documented despite the attempts of some to deny the chaos that inevitably results when humans attempt to follow their own disordered will instead of God’s. This is a conversation the church needs not only to be having but leading. If we are to be God’s image-bearers, we must not be ashamed to proclaim a faithful creational theology and its ramifications for all aspects of our life so that as many as possible can flourish, along with God’s world over which we rule. 

Our creational theology also informs us in matters of money and power and how we treat others. If we think we are responsible for providing for ourselves instead of God providing for us, we will tend to be greedy and self-serving. Money will have primary importance because that’s the medium we need to get stuff for ourselves and we’ll do what it takes to get it. Who cares who we run over or cheat or lie to or steal from? Who cares if we destroy the lives of others in pursuit of our needs? We’ve got our right’s, don’t we? But our rights look starkly different in a world where we own nothing and God owns it all. This alienated, self-centered thinking categorically rejects the generous heart and provision of God in the creation narratives to ensure that his creation and creatures will thrive. This doesn’t mean we sit around and wait for manna to fall from the sky (although my wife serves me manna regularly at our dinner table, but that’s another story). That’s not how it works. God gave us work to do as his image-bearers and from that work God provides for us, and generously. When we believe this, we must always be open to the needs of others and have a generous heart just as God the Father has a generous heart and track record for us. This gets at what Christ was talking about in our gospel lesson. Seek God and God’s creative purposes/order and you will thrive. Seek your own selfish desires and you will not. You will be anxious and sick.

This brings us to the darker side of creation because we all know that the world I have been talking about doesn’t exist today. To be sure there is great beauty and all kinds of evidence of God’s goodness and power in our world (if you’ve ever seen a breathtaking sunset or the vista of a mountain range or the beauty of blue ocean/lake water or a well-kept garden or the power of roaring waves or color photos of the cosmos, you know what I mean), but it is hardly good in the manner Genesis 1-2 describe. Why is that? Because of the Fall, a term used to describe what happened when humans rebelled against God in paradise by seeking to be gods instead of being content to be God’s creatures (Genesis 3.1-19). When that happened, our sin allowed the powers of Evil to enter into God’s world to corrupt and distort it, and it also brought God’s curse on the whole of creation. Because of the Fall, the original goodness of God’s creation was lost. Not totally but enough to make our lives miserable at times. Human sin along with God’s curse on his good creation is why, e.g., we have genetic defects and ugliness of all sorts and wicked diseases to name just a few. Our sin interrupted our perfect relationship with our Creator and introduced anxiety and alienation and loneliness and madness and chaos of all sorts into God’s world and our lives. To be sure, much of our suffering comes from the madness of our own folly and myopic selfishness. But much of what we suffer comes from external forces over which we have no control. We all have our stories. I just buried a young mother last week who died from cancer and was taken against her will from her family. She didn’t do anything to deserve that. Closer to home, we are holding our first healing service today and some of you will come for prayer and healing only to go away empty-handed. I wish it weren’t so, but that’s the reality. God sometimes refuses to answer our prayers for healing and deliverance, at least in the way for which we ask. There’s an injustice in the world that isn’t fully explainable by human sin and folly and it frightens us. This is what St. Paul is getting at in our epistle lesson when he talks about all creation groaning in travail while it awaits liberation from its bondage to decay—a reference to God’s curse on it—when God liberates his children. We too groan in travail from the emotional, mental, physical, social, spiritual, and personal bondage in which we find ourselves. It makes us want to cry out in desperation to God, asking why God allows this to happen and/or why God has abandoned us (cf. Psalm 130 for example). 

Here too our creational theology can help us because it allows us to see a bigger picture than our own individual salvation. We know from Genesis 1 what God’s gold standard for creation looks like, even if we have never experienced that standard personally. This longing for God’s gold standard—beauty, truth, love, health, life, vitality, happiness, flourishing to name just a few—makes us long for God to rescue us from his curse and the alienation, folly, darkness, sickness, sorrow, and death that our sin and God’s cursed world has brought about. It is precisely here that we must turn to the death and resurrection of Christ as St. Paul does in our epistle lesson because in Christ we are set free from our bondage to Sin and in our Lord’s resurrection we get a glimpse of a future even more spectacular than God’s creation before the Fall. When God raised Christ from the dead, God declared in this mighty act of power that he intends to rescue his good creation gone bad and us, restoring everything to its original goodness (and beyond), including our task as God’s image-bearers. That’s why God in Christ had to deal with our sin so that he could heal us and equip us to rule his new creation when Christ returns to raise our mortal bodies from the dead and bring in God’s new world, the new heavens and earth. God’s power and promise is what allows St. Paul to declare our current sufferings are not worth comparing to God’s promised new creation. At first blush that is a very irritating and off-putting statement. But St. Paul doesn’t mean that our sufferings are unimportant or trivial. He means rather that God will release us from them and give us a world forever devoid of suffering and sorrow, sickness and alienation, crying and death. This is our Christian hope, not yet realized. If we have a healthy and biblically-based creational theology, we get a glimpse of the astonishing possibilities that God has in store for his children, for those of us who are united to Christ in his death and resurrection in and through our baptism. And here is where we must be unabashedly bold in our proclamation and living out Christ’s death and resurrection. The world desperately needs to hear there’s a remedy for what ails it and we have that remedy: Jesus Christ, crucified and raised from the dead to initiate God’s promised new world, with the promise to return to complete the saving work he started.

So how do we respond to all this? I offer the following summary conclusions for your faithful consideration. I don’t know why God allows all the suffering and bad things that happen in this world. I don’t know why the woman I buried had to deal with the evil of cancer that she did. I don’t know why she had to suffer so mightily and why her family was saddled with that terrible burden of caring for their dying loved one. None of it had to go that way, yet it did. I don’t know why some of you don’t get the healing and relief you so desperately seek while others of you do. It breaks my heart to watch—I’m talking here about those of you who seek healing and relief and don’t get it—and frustrates me when my prayers for you ostensibly remain unanswered. 

But I do know this. You and I have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb shed for us on the cross and made fit to stand in God’s holy presence forever. We will be clothed one day with a new body patterned after the body of our Lord Jesus and set free to love and use our talents in spectacular new and old ways that honor God and others forever. I know that on the cross our sin has been dealt with once and for all. I know that Death will be abolished in God’s new world because Sin will be abolished and Death is the result of Sin. Both will be absent in the new heavens and earth. I know all of this because Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. Do you believe this? Do you?? If you don’t, I can promise you the darkness of this world and your life will overwhelm you sooner or later. But if you believe the promise, like St. Paul you will have the power to endure and even thrive in the midst of your travails. I believe this because I believe the promises of God and I believe the promises of God because I know Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. That’s all that is really important in this life, my beloved—Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. The God who created this vast universe surely has the power to rescue you. Will you not trust him by giving your life to him and living in ways that are consistent with God’s good created order?

The promise is mind-boggling. But the God we worship is mind-boggling. We worship the God who has the power to raise the dead and call into existence things that don’t exist (Romans 4.17). Jesus’ promise that he is the resurrection and the life is ours, not because we are deserving, but because of who God is, the God who created us to have life with him forever, and who is embodied in Jesus Christ raised from the dead. That’s part and parcel of having a solid creational theology; and if we do, we can rejoice today, even as we groan in travail. Because of our faith in Christ who loves us and who has claimed us from all eternity, we can embrace our hope of God’s promised new creation, the ultimate Gold Standard for which we long, and let it sustain us so that we can find joy even in the midst of our sorrows, a joy based on the love of God who promises to heal and redeem us fully when the new creation and the resurrection of our mortal bodies are finally revealed. That’s called real hope, my beloved. Embrace it. Let it heal and sustain you. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever. 

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Father Santosh Madanu: Go Be The Light of Jesus Christ

Sermon delivered on the third Sunday before Lent A, Sunday, February 9, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Isaiah 58.1-12; Psalm 112.1-10; 1 Corinthians 2.1-16; St. Matthew 5.13-20.

Jesus tells us who we are.  Jesus says you are the salt of the earth and the Light of the world. When Jesus was talking with the crowed that have followed Him from Galilee, Jerusalem, and Judea and beyond the Jordan.  They have come to see Jesus, to listen and learn, to be healed.  They have come in search of meaning, direction, and the purpose.  You and I stand among that crowed for the same purpose. Jesus is asking us to season and transform the human activity in such a way that reveals God in this world. Last week gospel showed us to be God’s receivers, this week Gospel shows us that we too be God-giver, God-sharers.  The salt and light ultimately look like the life of Jesus Christ in us.

To live as salt of the earth and light of the world is to know our deepest, truest, and most authentic self.  It is a life that we long for and the life of God desires us to have.  It is both who we are and how we are to be. To lose saltiness and the light is to lose Jesus Christ.   It is to deny God. So never to lose our identity in Christ Jesus.   The point Jesus making is that, as a child of God, and follower of Jesus Christ, you are critical to life on earth.  The history gives us glimpses of what the world would be like without God’s people.  At the time of Noah’s flood there were only eight followers of God on the planet.  The LORD SAW HOWGREAT man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain”. (Genesis 6:5, 6).  In our times we see, the communist countries don’t acknowledge God and many Middle East countries the Christians are slaughtered because of their faith in Jesus.  The world needs all of us.  Because many are genuine in search to know the truth and to find source of life in God. It does not make any sense if we hide ourselves from being witness of the Light of Jesus. Let your light shine where ever you are.  Let your spouse see that you belong to Christ.  Let your children see that you are His.  Let your friends on Facebook see that you are His.  And Let your coworkers see that you are His.  Let everyone see your true identity in Christ JESUS.  THIS IS WHAT GOD HAS MADE YOU and ME.

If we are the salt and the light then we ought to be tasted and seen by the world.  The world is in darkness, unfaithfulness, godless.  So we need to show who God is.  Regardless of where we are in life of our faith. You and I become light of Christ for the life of the world. Friends we together in community, St. Augustine family, and in our own individual lives bear out the light of Christ. Our lives should be model of God’s presence.  No one can kill our faith, no one can put off our true light of Christ.  This is the grace Jesus blessed us with.

Jesus makes clear what is the mission, the vocation, the task and responsibility of those who live according to the Beatitudes.

The blessings promised by Jesus are to spread throughout the whole world, and to the whole of humanity, through his disciples. This is entirely in accordance with the way God has acted throughout salvation history. Think of how God’s blessing came originally through the one man Noah, with his family; then through the one man Abraham; then through the children of Israel, and even just the tribe of Judah. Who were they among all the many nations of the earth? Yet, according to the dispositions of Divine Providence, God reaches out to the many through the few. So with Jesus. He gathers to himself just twelve disciples; then he speaks to a crowd of insignificant nobodies on a hillside in a remote Roman Province; and through them he speaks to us. Who are we? Nothing and nobody. No, worse than that, we are sinners. Yet also: by our baptism we are the children of God; we are Temples of the Holy Spirit; we have been made one with Jesus in his mystical Body. So today Jesus entrusts to us a tremendous power for good. We, who are the heirs of the Kingdom of heaven: we are to share actively in the mission of Jesus to bring salvation to the whole world.

You are the salt of the earth. Even today we can understand something of this metaphor. We know that a little bit of salt gives savor to a large amount of otherwise tasteless food. Salt preserves meat from corruption. Used appropriately, salt purifies and cleanses. But also: according to the Old Testament law, a little salt was to be added to sacrifices, whether of animals or of cereal (Lv 2:13; Ezk 43:24). So salt can be taken as a symbol of sanctification.

In addition: in the thought world of the New Testament, salt symbolizes wisdom. We then, who are so few, so apparently powerless, such frail and flawed instruments: we are to preserve our world from corruption; we are to save it from folly; we are to sanctify it; we are to make it a fit sacrifice to God.

And then immediately Jesus issues a dire warning. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? Having had such blessings bestowed on us; such high ideals held out to us; such a noble task entrusted to us: what if we then turn aside, and become merely worldly again? What if we retain the name, but not the reality of Christian? What if we allow ourselves to lose our love for Jesus, and become separated from him through our own fault? What if our personal conduct becomes a living contradiction of the Gospel, and we land up acting actually as a counter witness? Of course while life lasts there is always the chance for repentance and conversion, thank God: but still the stakes are very high. If we persist in our infidelity, we must expect to be treated finally as we have richly deserved.

You are the light of the world. Of course this light is not our own, but the light of Jesus in us. I am the light of the world, Jesus says in St. John’s Gospel (Jn 8:12). So St. Paul cried out to the Galatians that it was no longer he who was living, but Christ who lived in him (Gal 2:20). So we ask that our own lives may become a radiance of the life of Jesus. We pray that Jesus may take possession of us so completely, and dwell in us so fully, that through us the divine light may shine out in our world.

It is difficult to imagine a world without light.   In Jesus’ usage, the light is not simply to allow others to see whatever they wish but it is for others to witness the acts of justice that Jesus’ followers perform

  Salt and light are indispensable household commodities. Salt and light in spiritual sense that Jesus is speaking has indispensable value.

Jesus is asking you, Mike, you Martin, You George, You Beth go, right now to spread the Good News of Salvation.  To bring back the world that I created, to strengthen the faith of all Christians. To be light of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ disciples will prevent moral decay in the world.

This means that there is a sanctifying influence that Christians have.

1.      1 Cor. 7:14, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

 How to be a Christian is something the world learn primarily from other human beings

You are salt and you are light.

 “The kingdom of God is lived here and now – that is what it says in that letter from Christ which we are and shall more and more be.”

Can you live with such a commitment that people come to understand the realm of God through you?

You are salt.

You are light.

So, why did Jesus refer to them as salt?  Well, here’s what He seems to mean:

  1. Disciples of Christ have a seasoning influence.
  2. Disciples of Christ help to preserve. The world is corrupt and continues to corrupt.

Their message is the remedy for further corruption.  Some people in the world won’t like the message, but others will accept it and be preserved.

  1. Disciples of Christ are a testament to God’s promises. – Our lives are to testify to God’s unfailing love, to His promises from the past, and to His promises for the future.
  2. John 1:4-5, 9 – In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
  3. John 3:19 – “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil.”
  4. John 8:12 – When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

            “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven

Whenever we try to lessening God’s law or bend His rules it is serious business.  When we are lessening God’s law and bending of His rules leads our children, our friends, our co-workers to do the same it is serious business. Jesus is telling us the sins are really serious business.  Jesus came all the way from heaven to earth to tell us keep the Law and the prophets.

Jesus is interested in the heart. So let us not worried about what the world think of us but what God thinks of us.

Prayer: Holy God, set our hearts and minds on things above. Our hearts and our minds are so contaminated with lustful, greedy, angry, lazy, competitive, and prideful thoughts and ambitions. Forgive us for the impurity of our hearts through Jesus. May we become salt and light of the world that you desired to bring many to your Infinite Light and Truth.  Bless us to be citizens of your kingdom. May we remain faithful to you until you come in glory. In Jesus Name we pray.  Amen.

Funeral Sermon: The Resurrection of the Dead: The Promise of Evil Defeated

Lectionary texts: Revelation 21.1-7; Psalm 23; 1 Corinthians 15.1-26, 35-38, 42-44a, 53-58; John 11.17-27.

If you wish to listen to the audio podcast of the sermon, click here.

In the name of God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Good afternoon. I am Father Kevin Maney, rector of St. Augustine’s Anglican Church located in Westerville where my wife, Dondra, and I live. I am preaching today because Stephanie asked me to. I ministered to her for almost two years as she fought against the disease of cancer that ultimately claimed her life. I do not come to eulogize Stephanie today because even the most eloquent eulogies will not bring the dead back to life. Instead I come to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead because only Christ can and will restore the dead to new life despite all of our unanswered questions, our doubts and fears and anger. 

Death under any circumstance is hard, isn’t it? But it is incredibly hard when we are dealing with cancer, a disease that can only charitably be called pure evil. In this case it has struck down a mother in the prime of her life, robbed her of her human dignity as God’s image-bearer, and took her against her will from her husband and young son and daughters, her mother, and the rest of her family and friends. I watched her disease progress as I ministered to her and my heart is broken over it. Our fervent prayers for her healing went unanswered, at least in the way we intended, and this only added to our sorrow. Like the psalmist, we cried out, “Why, O Lord? Why do you stand so far away?” (Psalm 10.1). There is no good way we can spin this, nor should we try. Her death from cancer is just wrong. There is no justice to be found in it, no goodness. No family should lose a mother, wife, and daughter at such a young age. Cancer is truly a wicked disease and Stephanie’s death makes us angry and indignant, and rightly so.

Death ends permanently the relationships we cherish most about being human in this mortal life. We can no longer see our beloved, hear them, touch them, smell them or interact with them. Our Lord Jesus also knew this about the evil of Death because he snorted in anger at his friend Lazarus’ tomb just before raising him to life (John 11.38). Death is our ultimate enemy, the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor 15.26). It entered God’s good world as the result of human sin and has inflicted its evil on us ever since. Like Martha in today’s gospel lesson we want to throw our hands up in the air in desperation and ask why God allows this to happen.

But if you paid attention to our gospel lesson, you heard Jesus talk about a breathtaking hope—hope defined as the sure and certain expectation of things to come, not wishful thinking—as he gave Martha and us an ultimately more satisfactory answer to her “why” question about Evil and Death. Jesus did not answer her question directly. Instead, echoing Psalm 23, he acknowledged that while Evil and Death still exist in God’s good but fallen world, he had come to destroy their power over us, which he did, at least preliminarily, in his death and resurrection.

That is why Christian funerals are so important. They serve to remind us that for those who are in Christ, Evil and Death do not have the final say because of God’s great love for us expressed in the death and resurrection of Christ. As Jesus tells us in our gospel lesson, resurrection isn’t a concept, it’s a person, and those like Stephanie who are united with Christ in baptism are promised a share in his resurrection when he returns to raise the dead and usher in God’s new world. Jesus’ new bodily existence attests to the fact that we as humans—body, mind, and spirit, the total package—matter to God, and that new bodily existence, not death, is our final destiny for all eternity. This is what resurrection is about. This is what we celebrate today.

St. Paul talks about the nature of our promised resurrection body in 1 Corinthians 15 and it is worth our time to see what he has to say. St. Paul tells us that unlike our mortal body that is subject to disease, decay, and death, the resurrection body with which we will be clothed will be like Jesus’ resurrected body. It will be a spiritual body, that is, it will be a body animated and powered by God’s Spirit instead of being animated and powered by flesh and blood. This means that our new body will no longer be subject to all the wicked illnesses and decay to which our mortal body is subjected. Whatever our new body looks like—and surely it will be more beautiful and wonderful than our minds can comprehend or imagine—it will be impervious to death and suited to live in God’s promised new world, the new heavens and earth. 

When Christ returns to raise the dead and usher in the new creation, the dimensions of heaven and earth will no longer be separate spheres for God and humans respectively, and which currently only intersect. Instead, as Revelation 21.1-7 promises, the new Jerusalem, NT code for God’s space or heaven, will come down to earth and the two will be fused together in a mighty act of new creation so that all forms of darkness and evil will be banished and we will get to live in God’s direct presence forever. There will be no more sorrow or sickness or suffering or pain or death or evil of any kind. We will be reunited with our loved ones who have died in Christ and get to live forever with our new body and limitless new opportunities to be the humans God created and always intended for us to be. To be sure, this promise of new heavens and earth has not yet been fully realized and so we must wait in hope and faith for our Lord Jesus to return to usher it in. But even if we must wait, the promise of new creation is the only solution that will ultimately satisfy our hunger for justice and life because only in God’s new creation will all the injustices and hurts be made right and evil vanquished. In this case, Stephanie’s life and cancer-ravaged body will be fully restored (what better justice for the injustice of cancer and Death?) and severed relationships caused by death will made whole and complete again, a life of perfect health and happiness that will last forever, thanks be to God!

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that we should not grieve. That would be cruel nonsense. You don’t love a person for an entire lifetime and then not grieve her loss when she dies. But as St. Paul reminded the Thessalonians, we are to grieve as people who have real hope and not as those who have none at all. It is this resurrection hope, the promise of new bodily life in God’s new heavens and earth, that we claim today. Our resurrection hope is the only real basis we have for celebrating Stephanie’s life, because without union with Jesus, none of us have life in this world or the next.

I want to close by telling you a story that powerfully sums up our Christian hope. 

In 1989 Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, wife of Emperor Charles of Austria died. She was the last Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary, and Queen of Bohemia—one of the last members of the storied House of Habsburg. Her funeral was held in Vienna, from which he had been exiled most of her eventful life. After the service in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, her body was taken to the Imperial Crypt, where some 145 Habsburg royals are buried. As the coffin was taken to the Crypt, an ancient ceremony took place. A herald knocked at the closed door, and a voice responded, “Who seeks entrance?” The herald answered, “Zita, Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary.” From within came the response, “I do not know this person.” The herald tried again, saying, “This is Zita, Princess of Bourbon-Parma, Empress of Bohemia.” The same reply was heard: “I do not know this person.” The third time, the herald and pallbearers said, “Our sister Zita, a sinful mortal.” The doors swung open.  

And so we return to Jesus’ question to Martha and us in our gospel lesson. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this? If you do, then act like the resurrection people you are! I don’t know why God allows all the suffering and bad things that happen in this world. I don’t know why Stephanie had to deal with the evil of cancer that she did. I don’t know why she had to suffer so mightily. I don’t know why her family had to be subjected to the heavy burden of caring for their failing wife, mother, and daughter. None of it had to go that way, yet it did. 

But I do know this. Stephanie has been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb shed for her on the cross and made fit to stand in God’s holy presence forever. She will be clothed one day with a new body patterned after the body of her Lord Jesus and set free to love and use her talents in spectacular new and old ways that honor God and others forever. I know that on the cross, her sin, along with ours, has been dealt with once and for all. I know that Death will be abolished in God’s new world because Sin will be abolished and Death is the result of Sin. Both will be absent in the new heavens and earth. I know all of this because Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. 

The promise is mind-boggling. But the God we worship is mind-boggling. After all, we worship the God who has the power to raise the dead and call into existence things that don’t exist (Romans 4.17). Jesus’ promise that he is the resurrection and the life is ours, not because we are deserving, but because of who God is, the God who created us to have life with him forever, and who is embodied in Jesus Christ raised from the dead. That is why we can rejoice today, even in the midst of our grief and sorrow. And if your pain and sorrow are too great so that you cannot hear the promise of resurrection today, hold onto the promise with all your might until the day comes when you can hear and embrace it. Because of her faith in Christ who loves her and who has claimed her from all eternity, the doors of heaven have swung wide open for Stephanie and she is enjoying her rest with her Lord Jesus until the new creation and the resurrection of our mortal bodies come in full. And that, of course, is Good News, not only for Stephanie, but also for the rest of us, now and for all eternity. 

In the name of God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father Carlo Carretto Muses on His Relationship with the Church

This will resonate with anyone who has had remotely any experience with the Church. It offers compelling reasons why we should not abandon Church, despite the wounds we receive from her. Please read it for what it is, not what you want it to be.

How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you! 

How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! 

I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. 

You have given me so much scandal  and yet you have made me understand sanctity.

I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms. 

No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, although not completely. 

And where should I go? 

From The God Who Comes by Fr. Carlo Carretto

Father Santosh Madanu: The Blessing of Candles

Sermon delivered on Candlemas, Sunday, February 2, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Malachi 3.1-5; Psalm 24; Hebrews 2.14-18; Luke 2.22-40.

This week we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. In ancient Israel the Temple was the most important place in the world. It was the dwelling place of the Lord; it was where divinity and humanity embraced. But the nation of Israel had gone away from right worship of God. The Christ child is the divine and human in one and thus brings humanity back on line with God.

The words of the prophet Malachi are fulfilled in the poor parents presenting their firstborn son along with their humble sacrifice of two turtledoves. (Now I am sending my messenger— he will prepare the way before me; and the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1) The mother of God – the Theotokos, in no need of ritual purification – and her husband did not set themselves above the Law.

Simeon identifies the child as the awaited messiah, a light for revelation, the glory of Israel 

The devotion to the presentation of the Lord in the Temple or the blessing of Candles, Candle light procession practiced during Constantinople in the sixth Century.  This feast invites us to recognize Jesus as the light that has come into the darkness to destroy sin and death.

 In the New Testament, the festive celebration of the presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, as described by the evangelist Luke, had it’s beginning in Jerusalem in the 4th Century. The Christians followed the same prescription as attested to by St. Epiphanius in his letter to the monk John of Jerusalem in the 4the Ce. In the beginning the feast did not have specific name,  it was called the 40th day after the Nativity, later it was called the encounter of Our Lord, which refer to the encounter of St. Simeon with Jesus in the Temple.  In the west, the feast is called The Purification, which prescribed by the Law (Luke2:12).  Later it was called Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. Now it is called The Candlemas, or Blessing of the Candles.

When Simeon took the child Jesus into his arms, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit and chanted the hymn, “Now you can let your servant go in peace, O Master… (Luke 2, 29-32).  St. Simeon referred Jesus as the “Light to the Gentiles,” it prompted the first Christians to carry a lighted candle or lamp in the procession that day, symbolizing the mystical presence of the “True Light”.  The solemn procession itself symbolizes the journey of Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem in fulfilment of the Law.

The blessing of candles and procession is of great importance.  Because of the words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. This is a kind of epiphany celebration. We gladly participate in the procession commemorating the Lord’s entry into the temple in Jerusalem and His encounter with God, whose house He had come to for the first time, and then with Simeon and Anna.  Jesus Christ is the light to enlighten the Gentiles.  Who are the Gentiles?  We are all the Gentiles.  We came to know Jesus the Light of the world through Him.  This is the humble service Blessed Mother Mary did to honor God in obedience to the Law.

It is good to know the custom of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation was introduced to fulfill the needs of the people.  During the 5th Ce as recorded in the Chronicles of St. Theophanes, Emperor Justinian I, issued the order that on the feast of the presentation, a Candle – light procession be held throughout the city to implore Divine Protection against the pestilence and numerous earthquakes that plagued the city. And in answer to this holy gesture, God caused the pestilence and earthquakes to subside.  This gave rise to having processions on other occasions when the common welfare of the people was in danger.  In homes, the blessed candles are lighted in time of serious sickness or the threat of a storm to implore Divine Protection, as the family gathered in prayer.

St. John Chrysostom says the candle blessed on the feast of the presentation is also used when the Last Rite of the Church are administered to a member of the family.  It should also be placed into the hand of the dying as the priest recites the prayer for the Departure of the Soul, sending him to God as “the Champion of Faith”.

The liturgy provides for the blessing of women both before and after birth.

It is a highly desirable thing for mothers and married couples to ask for these blessings so that pregnancy can be brought to term without difficulty (blessing before birth), and to give thanks to God for the gift of a child (blessing after birth).

In the Old Testament Lev 24:14, God Himself ordered the Israelites to burn lamps as a sign of His presence among the People.

The psalmist speaks: your word, O Lord, is a lamp to my feet and light to my path

St. John the evangelist presents Our Lord Jesus Christ to us in his Gospel as the “The Light of Life”. (John 8:12) a life of grace.

St. Mathew refers to Light as a symbol of Christ Teaching:  “the people that lived in darkness (of ignorance) have seen a great light.  Mathew 4:16

John 8:12 Our Lord Himself says “I am the Light of the World”

The teachings of Jesus Christ should enlighten us and guide us on our way to Salvation.

Dear friends this light of Christ can help us to walk through the darkness to the unknown world- Heaven.

Gospel tell us the story of Simeon and Anna went to the Temple every day, because both of them believed that one day, they would see the Messiah there.   So this is something that they have done for long time. And of course, as we just heard, they are both rewarded for their Faith and their perseverance. By the fact they get to see Jesus on the day that he was presented to God in the Temple, because they had been waiting for Messiah in prayer and fasting day and night.  God fulfills His promises to Simeon and Anna.

How can we know our salvation?

How can we know the promises of God being fulfilled?

How does God reward His faithful?

The Lord may bless us like Simeon and Anna to see the salvation, when we consecrate our life to His Sacred Heart.   We need to acknowledge God in everything we do and live. This is why we have to find some time for God every day in our lives.  If Simeon and Anna decided not to go to the Temple that day, they would have missed out!

Are we missing Jesus and His Light? Are we missing out the joy, peace and spiritual life?  Because we miss church, we miss prayer life and fellowship. Let God fulfill His promises to us every day!

Dear brothers and sisters forty days have passed since we celebrated the joyful feast of the Nativity of the Lord. 

God in His Boundless love and Infinite mercy wanted to abide with us always.  That is why he created in His own image and likeness.  And He spent His presence with Adam and Eve every day.  

Though they disobeyed His Commandment and lost His presence.  Once again God in Jesus Christ came to walk, talk and have His abiding presence.  That is what todays feast presentation of the Lord in the Temple. God in Jesus Christ come to meet His children.

Jesus is coming to meet His believing people through His word and through the Holy Mass.  We need to be prepared to meet Him and have an encounter with Christ. Surely we shall find Him and ask His blessings like St. Simeon. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have established the church, made all of us your members, bless us that we may never ceases to proclaim the mystery that God has become man.  And God who created all things has emptied himself to become like one of a his creatures to be Light to Nations. IN Jesus Name we pray. Amen.