Sunday, July 29, 2012

Adoption, identity and scotch eggs

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis, Rochester, on the eighth Sunday after Trinity.

Bill is playing on his Xbox 360
when his Mum calls him
 to the table for his tea.

As he tucks into his scotch egg,
 he is very much aware of
a certain awkwardness in the air.
Mum has something to say,
and it’s clearly not easy for her.

“Bill,” she says finally,
“I have something to tell you.
 I think you’re now old enough
to understand this and we do owe it to you
 to tell you the truth.

Your dad and I love you very much, but…”
Mum pauses;
 so does Bill, his mouth full of egg.

 Mum breathes a heavy sigh,
“You’re adopted, Bill.
We aren’t your real parents.”

A scotch egg will never
 taste the same again.

What do you expect Bill to do now?


Well, this surely depends
on how Bill is feeling,
and there are many different emotions
 that could be crashing through
 his head at this time.

You might guess that Bill
could be suffering from an identity crisis.

 that he believes of himself
seems to be false.

All those holidays to Port Lympne,
 the birthday parties
and the games of kickabout in the back garden,
all seem strange and distant.

Those cards he made at school
 for Mothering Sunday and Fathers’ Day
seem to be a bit of a lie.
Where is Bill’s true identity?


We begin to find out who we are
at home with our families.

We learn by interacting
with our parents and brothers and sisters around us.

 The people who bring us up
show us how to live,
what values to treasure
and what we should and should not be doing
...not that families always get that right!
The first crucial experiences
that we have in life colour
how we see ourselves and,
further, how we live our lives.

If we find out that our parents
 really aren’t our parents,
then perhaps we are justified in thinking
that the way that they bring us up
 is not the way we should be brought up.

 Is Bill going to reject the people
 he has called Mum and Dad for all his life?

 Is he going to reject what they have taught him?
But this raises another couple of questions.

What would Bill think of his real parents?
Would he trust their values?

Not all parents are good parents after all!
Bill faces big choices.

He can accept the people
 he’s been living with as his family.

 Or he can reject them
and try to find his real family.

Or he can reject both and go it alone.
 Now that’s not an easy choice to make.

What is the right answer?


We do have to remember
the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ here.

 We cannot know precisely
how he knew that St Joseph
was not His real father.

We do know that He was thought of as “the carpenter’s son”.
Yet throughout His ministry,
 Jesus demonstrates quite clearly
 that He is not the son of Joseph.

Is this a rejection of His parentage?

Well, in one way it is.

The Lord tells us very clearly,
 “If any man come to me,
 and hate not his father, and mother,
and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters,
 yea, and his own life also,
 he cannot be my disciple.”

How does that make you feel?

Should we reject our parentage to please God?


If that’s true then we run up
against the commandment
 “Honour thy father and thy mother”.

The Lord cannot be contradicting
 His Heavenly Father, can He?

 The key to understanding
 what Our Lord is telling us
 is to understand what he means
by “hating” our parents.

 In fact, the Greek word
 that is being translated as “hate”
means “to love less”.

It’s the opposite of preferring.

The Lord tells us very clearly
that God is Our real Father before our earthly parents
and that only in serving Him
 do we truly honour our parents,
especially if they have brought us up
 to love God.

 We do not reject our parents
by choosing God;
we choose to see them first
 in the light of the Eternal parentage of God.

Indeed it is only within God
that we find our true selves.

 St Paul tells us,
” For as many as are led by the Spirit of God,
they are the sons of God.”
The more we love God,
 the more do we find in Him
our true lovable identity.

 To reject God as our adopted Father
means that we reject everything
 that is real about ourselves.

We thus accept an identity
which is distorted by our own preconceptions
and disfigured irreparably by our sins.

 Or, in rejecting God,
 we assume a false identity which is given to us
by other people
and which will alter and perish with them.

Our lives must be spent in rejecting anything
that attempts to draw us away from the reality
of our adoption.


The fact that Bill is adopted does not change his past.
 It changes only how he sees his past.

 If he looks back and sees love there
in the birthday parties,
in the holidays
and in games of footie in the back garden,
 then nothing has changed at all.

His cards for Mothering Sunday and Fathers’ Day
 keep all their meaning and perhaps have gained more.

if we realise that we are the adopted children of God
and adopted by His love for us,
 then we stop seeing the world
as children of the world
with all its evil, sadness and decay.

We look beyond it
to the Eternal face of God’s only true Son,
 the brother who signed our adoption certificate
in His Blood.

And although we might be adopted children,
we are offered, through Christ,
 the opportunity to develop a true family likeness
of our Heavenly Father.

How well have you accepted the fact that you’re adopted?

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