from St Faith's
On Tuesday of this week is the Feast Day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
In St. Matthew Chapter 16 we read: ‘You are Peter and on this rock I
will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold
out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven:
whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven;
whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
It is obedience to this command of our Lord himself that priests have
been entrusted with the ministry of forgiving sins for 2000 years. It
is also at this time of year, Peter-tide, as we call it, that most
people are ordained. It’s much easier to relate an understanding of
vocation to priests or members of the religious life. How often do you
consider your vocation as a Christian? You perhaps don’t. Who can blame
Is the call to follow the Lord an easy one? It most certainly is not.
In fact the words in today‘s Gospel reading are extremely difficult and
it is a harsh reality that as a true disciple, we have to be ready to
go where God calls us to go.
But we want a certain amount of comfort and security very often in
doing so. I have often listened to comments from clergy over the years
looking a different parishes……. The house is OK but not much of a
garden. The church is nice but the area isn’t.…… The people might be in
need but where do I send my children to school? What I want seems to
come first, what God wants second! Very often the business of following
the Lord is muddled with our own individual cares and concerns, not all
of them unreasonable.
But its not just clergy who can be picky about how committed they are.
I don’t go to Church any more, the new Vicar is simply too high. I
don‘t go anymore, the new Vicar isn‘t high enough… They don‘t use the
right hymn book. They use the old service, I don‘t like that. There are
too many children.… They expect me to get involved and put money on the
plate. There are 101 reasons why people don‘t go to church.
Jesus said, ‘the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.’ Our
commitment to God must be total, no holding back. We do not
hold back in our marriages, we do not hold back with
our children, we choose our careers and stick to them. So too as a
disciple, we go where God calls us, or we should do - no holding back.
But, in our gospel, the man said, ‘Let me first bury my father.’ Jesus
answered, ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’ In other words, make your
choice. We cannot sit on the fence. ‘No one who looks back is fit for
the kingdom of God.’ The problem is, everyone of us looks back! The
good old days were perfect. The old Vicar had it right... The last
government wouldn’t have allowed this or that... In my day…... And so
We do not live in the past. We have to face reality here and now.
Witnessing to Christ is a difficult slog at times. Isn’t that the way
it should be? Are the most valuable things in life those which come
Think about it: it‘s only because people fought with a passion that
women got the vote, that women got ordained, that gay people are less
and less being treated as second class citizens, that racist behaviour
and racist comments are unacceptable, that oppressive regimes and
governments are being overturned. None of this has come about through
people sitting on their backsides and being half-hearted.
Why should the proclamation of the Good News require less effort?
How deep is our desire to respond to the Lord‘s call and to live the
implications of following Him in our daily lives?
Will you follow me? says Jesus. He says that to those standing in
cathedrals all over the world today being ordained. He says that to
those in churches throughout the world being confirmed today. He
says that to the thousands upon thousands of people who will kneel or
stand around the world and receive Him in the sacrament of Holy
Pledging ourselves, as we have to, week after week after week. He says
that to you and me. ‘Will you follow me?’
There are three answers we can give:
Today’s Gospel is hard and challenging. Jesus says the disciple is
homeless, with ‘nowhere to lay his head,’ the disciple lets ‘the dead
bury the dead,’ and never looks back. Sounds hard. But, only until we
try it. Put God first in our lives, be loving, help others, and life
takes on a whole new meaning. In fact, we step right into the kingdom
That wonderful poem ‘Blame the Vicar’ by John Betjeman can have the
‘Highness’ or ‘lowness’ do not matter -
You are the Church and must not scatter:
Cling to the sacraments and pray
And God be with you every day.
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