Sermons from St Faith's
The Marks of Mission
Paula O'Shaughnessey, May
In John's Gospel reading today we learn that - Judas
is lost – the one who was destined to be lost, so
that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Psalm 41, v9: Even my bosom friend in whom I
trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the
heel against me.
Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, and in
so doing – has played a key part in Jesus'
execution. Overcome with despair, when he
realises what he has done – Judas hangs himself.
Jesus, the good shepherd – seeks to save and protect
all of his flock from harm. He is prepared to
give his very life for the people whom he
loves. In his final moments before death, he
says to God:
'Father, forgive them for they know not what they
The world is a dangerous place, where 'the Evil One'
is at large:
1 Peter 5:8: Discipline yourselves; keep
alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the
devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
But here in John's Gospel, Jesus makes the careful
distinction that for himself and for the disciples –
they are in the world, but they do not belong to the
world. In this way, the protection of God is
given to them. They are SANCTIFIED.
Judas has shown the attachment to worldly things –
and the corruption which it brings – symbolised by
the 30 pieces of silver.
Matthew 27:3: When Judas, his betrayer, saw that
Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought
back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief
priests and the elders.
Judas cannot undo what he has done to Jesus – it is
too late for that.
In John's Gospel, there is a definite way to
John 14.6: Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the
truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father
except through me.
This is the way of being sanctified by God.
Jesus, The Good shepherd – who lays down at the
doorway to the sheep pen offers the only way in and
out. He is the doorway between Heaven and
Earth. He protects them, and is prepared to
lay down his life for his sheep.
The disciples are to live for the good of the
people, to bring the people to God and to bring God
to the people. To be in the world, but not to
belong to the world. They have the direct line
to God, and so have a unique position – and offer
salvation to the people, through this means.
In the reading from Acts, we learn that the vacant
place among the apostles (following the loss of
Judas) is taken up by Mathias. Thus the
complement of 12 is restored, and so the mission of
God can continue. The means of appointing
Mathias, by casting lots is described as enabling
the hand of God to be at work, rather than man.
Throughout the passages of scripture today, is the
clear message that we must rely on God, and that it
is through Jesus that we come to the Father.
The security of this is our vital source of strength
in the world, which can be hostile and
dangerous. As followers of Christ, we too are
disciples for mission – and do so, with faith and
hope in him. Like the early disciples, we
should not live selfishly, but strive to be faithful
followers of Jesus, and lead mission in his name,
and with this spirit of loving and nurturing all of
At this point in the church calendar we are between
Ascension and Pentecost. Jesus has gone up to
Heaven, but the Holy Spirit is yet to descend upon
the disciples – giving them strength and courage to
fulfil their mission in the world. So
important to us, in our mission – is growing closer
to God through prayer. As we open our hearts
and minds to God, in prayer, so we can receive and
then so in turn give to others.
With prayer, we can transform our understanding of
the world and all people, by learning to see things
anew – inspired with love of God.
Let us pray that today, the Church can be strong in
bringing this to a greater reality for
everyone. That we can see the fruits of
mission in the world. Lord, give us your
people strength and courage in our mission – that we
know the world needs.
* To proclaim the good news of the kingdom
* to teach, nurture and baptise new believers
* to respond to human need with loving service
* to seek to transform unjust structures of society;
* to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation
and sustain and renew the earth