Sunday, December 14, 2014

There's none as deaf...

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Third Sunday in Advent 2014

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “there’s none as deaf as those who will not listen.” To that, we can probably add, “there’s none as blind as those who will not open their eyes” and “there’s none as lame as those who will not walk.” In the book of Proverbs, we read “The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.” In other words, some people are so lazy that they won’t even put their food into their own mouths. There’s only so much that you can do for people. At some point, they must do something for themselves. What do they expect otherwise?

If a man walks around refusing to open his eyes, then surely he cannot complain when he bumps into a lamppost. If a woman refuses to open her mouth, then surely she must expect to get hungry. We are expected to think of the consequences of our actions, because every effect has a cause.

St John the Baptist ministers at the river Jordan. People come from far and wide to see him, only to be told “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Why do people do it?

It’s rather like all those folk who go onto the X Factor with a singing voice like a piece of chalk on a blackboard. These are usually the same people who get upset when Simon Cowell gets upset when he tells them they can’t sing. That comes as a bit of an eye-opener for them, but does it really open their eyes? What do they expect to happen? If they go to Simon Cowell, they will be told that they can’t sing. If they go to St John the Baptist, they will be told that they need to repent of their sins.

And yet they still come. Why?


Our Lord asks that very same question, “what went ye out for to see?” Not a reed blowing in the wilderness, not a king, but a prophet. They surely know that St John the Baptist is a prophet, but do they expect him to tell them what they want to hear?

If they do, then perhaps they are looking for some hope in their lives. People go to hear prophets because they hope that they might hear God speak and find that they’ve got their lives right. Like Simon Cowell, St John the Baptist is surrounded by hopefuls. Yet their hopes are dashed when St John tells them to repent of their sins. They haven’t got their lives right, after all.

The people have two choices: repent or not. It’s their choice and it can’t be made for them. They can either listen or be deaf; they can either open their eyes, or stay blind. They can hope in themselves, or they can hope in God.

You see, Our Lord Jesus gives us hope for He says, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

If we are willing to accept that we are wrong to trust in ourselves and our own abilities, then Our Lord will help us, but we have to accept His miracles in our lives. If we take offence at His judgement of us, then He cannot help us because we refuse to let Him. The only way to know if our sight is restored is to open our eyes and see. We only know if we are not lame if we bother to get up and walk.

Sure! It hurts to open eyes that are used to the dark. Sure! It hurts when weak legs start moving for the first time. But it’s better than being blind. It’s better than being lame.

St John the Baptist tells us to get up and prepare for Christ to do something miraculous in our lives. If we insist on having our own miracles performed in our lives rather than the ones He has in store for us, then there can be no welcome for the Christ-Child in our lives this Christmas.

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