Sunday, June 09, 2013

The worst magic trick in the world.

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on 2nd June 2013 on the Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi and at the Parish of St Augustine, Canterbury on 9th June 2013

What’s the worst magic trick in the world?
Sawing a lady in half?
Rabbit out of  a hat?
Coin out of your ear.

Tubbo the clown shows you a pencil,
waves his hands over it and says,
“Pow! It's now an apple!"
You say quite reasonably "but it still looks like a pencil to me!"
Tubbo replies, "ah! it looks like a pencil
but really it's an apple!"

you would hope that Tubbo's act
would get better comedy value later on.

Those outside the Church claim that this is exactly
what happens in the Mass.
Some folk seem to think that the Mass
 is nothing more than a superstitious magic trick.

During the consecration,
the host and the wine become
the real Blessed Body and Precious Blood of Christ.
To us, it's "hoc est corpus"
(this is [my] body),
to them it's hocus pocus,
a sham, mere pretend.

 Does it worry you that
 people think you kneel before
a little bit of unleavened bread and claim it to be God?


This has been the dividing point
between Christians for centuries,
and some very Protestant Christians
would accuse us of idolatry,
worshipping wafer and wine,
rather than God Himself.

We know full well
that we are not worshipping material objects,
but rather we are worshipping
the very God whom we profess.
What can we do?


There is only one answer: obey God.
If we are truly obedient to God,
then we need fear nothing at all.
So what does God really say?

Our Lord Jesus is God
and so we listen to his words:
"Take, eat: this is my Body,
which is broken for you:
 this do in remembrance of me."

Also, taking the cup, Our Lord says,
 "this do ye, as oft as ye drink it,
in remembrance of me.
For as often as ye eat this bread,
and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death,
till he come."

We are told to do the very thing
which we are here to do.
The Mass is a commandment to us.
Does this explain
why we treat a consecrated host
 the way that we do?


Christ always commands us
in order for something definite,
something truly beneficial
to happen.

This is the nature of what a Sacrament is.
God and human beings enter into a sort of contract.
If we do our part, God does His part.
 If we celebrate the Mass faithfully,
God gives us nothing less than His very self.

The Lord says "This is my body", "this is my blood"
Further still, in St John's Gospel,
Our Lord Jesus says,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,
 and drink his blood,
 ye have no life in you.

Whoso eateth my flesh,
and drinketh my blood,
hath eternal life;
and I will raise him up at the last day.

 For my flesh is meat indeed,
and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh,
and drinketh my blood,
dwelleth in me, and I in him."

That's the promise that we are given
and it certainly is a great comfort
to know that we eat of the Bread of Life
- the Bread of True Life!

This is not the dead flesh of animals or plants
 which only sustain our earthly bodies
that will only die anyway.
It is the living Eternal flesh of God
 which we take into ourselves.

 Christ gives us food
so that we can become like Him
and thus like His Father.
 This is the bread that gives us
 an existence in Eternity itself
in the tender love of a God
Who wants us to know Him.

Why, then, is it not more dramatic?
Why not make the change more obvious
so that everyone can see the effects?


Being members of the Church,
we are people of faith.
We trust in God because we love Him
and also because we have
neither grounds nor means to hold Him to account.

 He is not a tame God but he is faithful to us!

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us
 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.”

 God cannot be seen
because He is completely different
from all that we even begin to imagine Him to be
with our fleshly eyes and our fleshly minds.

God cannot make the change more obvious
because to do so would change who He is!
It is not possible for us to understand everything,
though God permits us to try.

Many people have tried to find theories
all based on speculation and philosophy
with some fascinating and uplifting results.

However, these theories are just theories.
They are not necessary for us to believe
otherwise only those who have
 the right knowledge would go to Heaven
 and God wants us all to be saved.

He desires not the death of a sinner.

All we need to know is that,
before the prayer of consecration,
we have really the wafer and wine,
 and, after the prayer,
 the Real Body and Blood of Christ
 that He Himself promised us.
But we have to trust Him.


To those who do not believe,
 what we do is ridiculous!
St Paul recognized this.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ,
we are of all men most miserable.”

 We kneel before a wafer of bread
in a performance of the world’s worst magic trick
 because this is Sacrament and not magic!

But we do believe God and He will reward our patience.

For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face.
The wafer and the wine are just the dark glass
 through which we glimpse God
and indeed truly receive Him.

How are you going to approach the altar rail today?

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