Sermons from St Faith's   

For the Good of All

Paula O'Shaughnessy, Sunday, January 15th, 2017

In the first chapter of John's Gospel today, it is all starting to happen with the ministry and discipleship of Jesus.  The followers of Jesus are coming to him, through John the Baptist.  In this, there is THE hope, the purpose of life.  John the Baptist tells us what sets Jesus apart from other men is that he is the one on whom the spirit descends like a dove and the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit.

So we can see ourselves and our relationship with God in these terms.  That raises the question – With the Holy Spirit what are we like and how do we affect the lives of others?

In thinking of this, I would like to tell you a story:

Many years ago, I worked as a care assistant in a rest home for the elderly, in Scotland.  The rest home was run by a religious order of Roman Catholic sisters.  There I met a very inspiring person.  Her name was Darshanie (a devout Roman Catholic) who was a care assistant there.  When I first started my job there, whilst a student at university, I had been working with colleagues other than Darshanie.  They were generally, tired, discontented and impatient at times in their work.  Inevitably, through discontent and boredom, the staff would fall to gossiping, complaining and so not making life any easier for anyone, including themselves.  They had a pretty hard life, low income, demanding job.  Sometimes the residents were difficult and  unappreciative.

Then, after working with these colleagues, for a while, the nun in charge of our wing put me to work alongside Darshanie.  She was totally different.  Her kindness and gentleness of spirit shone through.  She was hard working too, never slacking off for even a moment.  We looked after one lady who, because of her suffering from dementia, would wander off – trying to leave the building.  But with Darshanie on duty, that never ever happened.  We would work together and always she would check every few minutes, if the lady was still there, safely in either her room or the lounge.  One of us would leave what we were doing and go and check on the lady.  Every task Darshanie did was done thoroughly and with love.  Whether it was helping an elderly lady, washing dishes or brushing the floor.

What I saw in her is something we rarely see.  Total commitment to do the right thing for the right reasons,and for the good of all.  By this, I mean the good of others, but also, for our own good.  She never did anything to seek recognition, or through either a sense of pride, or for an unhealthy martyrdom complex.

With someone such as Darshanie, we just know All is Well.  We feel safe secure, and yes, a definite sense that the Holy Spirit is present within that person.  For the Holy Spirit touches the lives of all affected by that person.

At times, life can just get too busy, and noisy and difficult.  Then we may block the Holy Spirit from entering into our soul.  How do we want to be?  Do we want to time waste, gossip and express discontent with life?  By this, all we achieve is to perpetuate the wrongs of the world.

Instead, do we allow the Holy Spirit into our souls and to be more like Darshanie?

We know what the right thing to do is.  And yes, it is not easy, when things go wrong, to keep faithful to the teachings of Christ.  But this is what matters above all others. 

As St Paul says in the letter to the Corinthians today;

'I give thanks to my God always for you, because of the grace of God, that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for every way you have been enriched in Him, in speech and knowledge of every kind.'

Let us pray that we always remain faithful to the teachings of Christ.  That if we do stray, if we forget, that we will be open to receive the Holy Spirit and that the light of Christ will shine forth from us into the world.

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