Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wholly holey, or holy?

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

If God is so great, why did He create washing up?

There’s something about washing-up that is so dreary, so dull, so mundane. For those folk lucky to have dishwashers, there is no need to have to deal with the piles of dirty plates and pots and pans. For the rest of us we have to pull on our rubber gloves, pick up the sponge and scrub.

But then, perhaps you like doing the washing-up. For some folk it’s an evil especially when you’re left at the end with that germy old sponge that you now have to throw away.

Mind you, think how the sponge feels!


The way that a sponge works is the fact that it’s riddled with holes which hold the water until it is squeezed out. This makes it ideal for scrubbing the pots and pans. However, as the water gets dirty, so the sponge gets filled with germy water. It may get squeezed out at the end of the washing up, but soon it will be so germy that it has to be thrown away.

That seems like a poor lot for the sponge.


Of course, sponges today are man-made but they are based on the sea-creature called a sponge which was used by our forefathers for the similar purposes of holding water temporarily. The animal sponge is a remarkable creature in its own right, and often we forget that. God’s creation is full of wonderful animals.

We know that God’s creation is good. He tells us that Himself. God looks at everything that He has made and it is very good. It is all very good, without exception. So where does Evil come from then?


St Augustine tells us that Evil is a lack of Good. Wherever Evil is there is no Good and wherever Good is there is no Evil. Since God created everything, and everything is Good, Evil must be a form of nothing, an emptiness, a darkness.

Of course, there is a bit of a problem here. People do good and evil often in equal measure, but people are not nothing – there are no obvious holes.


The fact of the matter is that we are worldly beings, and fallen from the presence of God. We have inherited the holes in our being from The Fall – the sin of Adam and Eve. We’re well aware of the presence of evil in our lives: we sin and keep sinning and seem unable to stop. St Augustine is telling us effectively that Evil is the presence of nothing that prevents us from being the something that God wants us to be.  We’re a sponge – full of holes – when we should be solid. We’re the wrong type of holy!

This is problematic if we’re hoping to find ourselves with God for Eternity, if we hope to be like Him. St John tells us that, “Whosoever abideth in [The Lord] sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” He also tells us that “He that committeth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” So it would appear that if we sin now after we’ve heard this, we’re in trouble and likely to find the Devil breathing down our necks.


We must be careful. In the Greek language, St John is not saying that if we ever commit sin then we’ll never see God. He’s talking about habitual sin. If we keep sinning, and don’t care that we keep sinning, then we are turning our back on God.  Sinners just will not see God because they don’t want to look at Him. They want to remain full of holes so that they can soak up worldly pleasures.

The time will come when those worldly pleasures will end, and these folk will be so light and insubstantial because they are full of holes that they will blow away like chaff in the wind.

But we have holes in our being too that are caused by our sin. What do we do?


Well, we can do absolutely nothing to fill up the holes in our lives ourselves because all that we have is full of holes. The whole point is that we trust solely in God, for He will fill up those holes with His Grace. God wants everyone to be saved. He gives of Himself to fill the holes in our lives in the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross. Certainly when we receive Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament, we are made more solid, and more like Him. Every grace given to us by God makes us more solid, makes us more real, just like He is real. We just have to choose to receive it!


God has given us a promise, we shall see Him. When we do see Him, then we shall understand who we are in relation to Him, because not only we will recognise Him but we shall see Him in ourselves. We shall indeed recognise ourselves as the sons and daughters of God.

Can you see the family resemblance yet, or is your life too full of holes?


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