3 July 2016    TRINITY 6

Isaiah 66.10-14   Galatians 6. 1-16   Luke 10.1-11, 16-20

Jesus said; I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven (Lk 10.18)  

The York Mystery plays begin with God creating the angels. Gabriel and Lucifer and many angels appear. The y wear long white robes with brightly lit halos round their heads. The ir wings are beautiful, white and feathery. Lucifer is holding a light in a glass bowl representing the morning star. He defies God and is attacked by Gabriel and the angels. His wings are wounded and smeared with blood and he is chased down to hell. In the rest of the plays he no longer appears in white but in black rags and he has lost his wings and wears a snake round his neck.

This myth is one way to account for the presence of evil in the world. It isnít strictly dualism, for Satan is not the equal of God and God can triumph over him. Jesus on the cross defeated Satan once and for all, as witnessed by his resurrection.

In the Gospel we heard that Jesus rejoiced because the seventy messengers had won a victory over Satan when they proclaimed the Gospel of Godís kingdom, brought near by Jesus. We are told they went to at least 35 places ahead of Jesus and, like him, were able to expel demons from those afflicted by demonic possession.

God in his love and mercy towards the entire human race sent his only Son to us. He in his love and mercy sent his disciples to his people proclaiming the good news and healing the sick. The ir harvest of believers showed the defeat of the power of evil.

God in his love and mercy in many ways defeats Satan.

His grace in individual people moves them to repentance. When they turn to God the angels rejoice because Satan has been defeated. When Godís grace makes men and women and even children into saints and martyrs the angels rejoice because Satan has been defeated.

In todayís reading from Isaiah at Mattins there is another instance of a great defeat of Satan by the love and mercy of God to the Jews in exile in Babylon . The y were allowed to go home to Jerusalem . No doubt the city was in a pitiful ruined condition but it was home and they rejoiced in the lovely psalm the prophet composed.

When in Godís love and mercy the Syrian exiles are able to return home to their devastated country they will also sing similar songs of joy at the downfall at last of Satan the father of lies and suffering.

Satan enjoys setting people against one another and causing divisions. He must have enjoyed the recent referendum and its aftermath. He is the enemy of Christian unity and any movement towards Inter-Faith understanding. God the Holy Spirit inspires all people to be of one heart and mind, to agree where possible and to treat everyone with tolerance and generosity. The Lord rejoices when those who are at variance and oppose their neighbour learn by Godís grace to love one another.

Itís good to reflect on our memories of the past and notice occasions when by Godís love and mercy Satan has been defeated and good triumphed. It may be situations when we have personally been involved in that victory or it may be things we have heard from others or in the news. The n, just as Jesus rejoiced when he heard how his seventy messengers had experienced wonderful things, so we should rejoice and thank God for the instances we remember of triumph over evil.

Here to end are three examples of good triumphing.

You will remember hearing about the little Japanese boy who got lost in a dense forest inhabited by bears. I think it was wonderful how many people apart from the army volunteered to search for him and eventually he was found after six days alive and well.

In Sekukuniland, where our Community once had a Priory, there is a shrine where the martyr Manche Masemola is buried. Her heathen parents beat her to death because she wanted to be a Christian. Now the shrine has been made beautiful so many will go there and have their faith strengthened by the witness of this young girl.

Finally, I saw on the TV news a film of David Beckhamís recent visit to a school and home in Swaziland. He generously supports this charity which cares for children of all ages who contracted HIV at birth. It is an example of healing love.

For all these and so many more we praise and thank God our Saviour.

Crispin Harrison CR