Sunday, January 11, 2015

Doctoring the doctors?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Sunday in the Octave of Epiphany

[After Solemn announcing of the moveable feast days]

All those dates! Have you remembered them all and put them in your diaries? They’re not as memorable as 1066, 1914 or September 11th, are they? This gives us an interesting question. How do we know that the battle of Hastings occurred in 1066? How do we know it occurred at all? After all, none of us were alive back then: there are no eyewitnesses to tell us.

To know whether an event occurred, we have to look for evidence. We know what happened with September 11th because we remember it, and we agree on our testimony. However for 1066, we need to look for manuscripts and other records such as the Bayeux tapestry. Of course, the battle of Hastings is something that has been handed onto us by our history teachers since it happened.

There is a tendency among people these days to reject what their teachers have told them. They no longer trust in what has been handed to them by their education. That’s not surprising when there are frequent revelations that things may not have happened the way that we have been taught that they happen. Human beings are very good at trying to undermine their own education. Sometimes that’s good when we’ve been taught bad things. But what about when it’s not so obvious?

You will also have noticed that there are many famous academics out to teach against what we believe. Have you seen the slogan that says, “there’s probably no God so get on and enjoy your life.” There are teachers who tell us that God doesn’t exist because Science says so.

Do teachers need to be taught a lesson in what’s true?


At Epiphanytide, we look in the temple and see the great doctors of the temple in Israel being grilled by a twelve year old boy, who asks them complicated questions based on their teaching. This child amazes them with His learning and understanding. It is this child that has been learning about what these men teach and questions it carefully to reveal how much they do know.

If we ask good questions of what we believe, then we can come into a deeper relationship with God. Epiphany is that time when God reveals Himself to mankind to teach and to be questioned so that people can know Him better. God chooses to be with mankind to form a relationship based on trust. This is what a covenant is – it’s a declaration of trust. The covenant between God and us is that we believe Him to be God and to treat Him so, and that He will bring us to Eternal Life in Him away from sin and misery.

As Christians, we are allowed to question what we believe even if that means not finding the answer right away. Sometimes the answer takes a long time. Until that answer comes, and it may not in our lifetime, we must continue to trust God and hold fast onto the Faith which we have received and pass on to our children. God is not asking to be our controller though, ultimately He remains in control: He is asking that He becomes a member of our family so that we can become a member of His.

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