21 August 2016 Trinity 13
theme of this sermon is the mysterious way the
Church can, through its decisions, impede the freedom of the Gospel. In
today’s Gospel it is the Jewish Church contending with Jesus.
seems, at first, unusual that the sick woman who comes into the Synagogue did
not approach Jesus for healing. Recently it dawned on me that as she was
completely bent over; she would not even have seen that Jesus was there.
first intimation of his presence was his voice
calling to her, then his touch and the words “Woman you are healed.” After
eighteen years bent double she stood up, straight and steady.
next thing we know is the man in charge of the
synagogue says to all the people there “
re are plenty of other days to come and be healed – but NOT on the
Sabbath.” Jesus then puts him right about the Sabbath.
is a pattern which we shall see repeated.
actions and the events attached to Jesus come into conflict with regulations
and interpretations of the Church, Church to which we belong.
example: for hundreds of years, right up to the 1950s, it was not permitted to
receive Communion if you had not fasted from the previous midnight. Some folk
thought this included cleaning your teeth! Consequently, during Holy Week, the
celebration of events involving Jesus could not always be at the time it
rule about fasting Communion meant that the celebration on Maundy Thursday of
the the Last Supper had to be in the morning before lunch.
rules came first.
more extraordinary, the Paschal Vigil and first Mass of Easter had also to be
before lunch. This meant, of course, that Lent came to an end at Saturday lunch.
After that there was church cleaning and maybe a gin and tonic.
CR the conflict on Maundy Thursday remained.
Supper was in the morning. However the Pascal Vigil and first Mass of Easter
was at dawn on Easter morning. Holy Saturday therefore retained its mysterious
dignity that we all know today.
re is a story about a novice in a women’s
community who was caught using the telephone on a Retreat Day. Scolded by the
Novice Mistress she said “But I was answering a call from someone who was
suicidal”, to which the answer was “
re are plenty of other days to think about suicide but not on a Retreat Day”.
re is another occasion when the Church seem to
conflict with what we infer from the Gospel. For reasons I do not fully
understand it is not permitted for anyone who is not in Holy Orders (or, in some
Dioceses, a lay-reader) to read the Gospel during the Eucharist. Lay women and
men preach the Gospel and teach it but not read it at the Liturgy.
the present time there is a growing conflict between the amount of work on the
computer to be done by the Vicar – and therefore there is less and less
freedom for pastoral visits and care, maybe of folk like the woman in the
parish Priest is today bombarded with demands
from the Bishop, the Archdeacon, the Diocesan Missionary committees and meetings
to plan evangelism, targets for the next five years – and so on and on.
victim of the conflict is the good Priest who wants to be with his people. (You
could imagine the Bishop saying “
re are other days to visit, not on the days with your computer”.)
soon as Jesus saw the poor sick woman he immediately, without being asked, went
to heal her. Passion and urgency came first with Jesus.
re is a Latin proverb ‘he who is a Christian
the climate in the Church today we have Pope Francis on the concept of mercy.
us pray that the Church we belong to may discover again the passion and
immediacy of Jesus.
Simon Holden CR