Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mummy, the vicar said "Lust". What's that?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the third Sunday after Easter

Mention the word “lust” and we Christians seem to go a bit awkward and nervous and try and change the subject. However, it’s interesting to note that the word has rather changed its meaning over time. The words that St Peter is using when he talks of “fleshly lusts” have a much more general meaning. The deadly sin of Lust really is an uncontrolled desire for anything and walks alongside avarice and envy as something that can take over one’s life. While avarice is the uncontrolled desire for things, and envy the uncontrolled desire for things that other people have, lust is more concerned with a desire for pleasure. The Latin word for it is luxuria from which we get the word luxury.

What comes into your mind when you hear the word luxury?


Perhaps you think of lying on a couch of silken sheets while servants feed you grapes, fan you and rub your feet. But then, perhaps you think of a lie-in, a weekend away, a nice piece of cake or a bit of peace and quiet. Perhaps when we think of luxury, we think of little pleasures, nothing big or dramatic.

Surely, though we all have a desire for pleasure. Is that really such a bad thing?


The fact is that God has created this world for us to live in, and He wants us to be happy. However, He doesn’t just want us to be happy for a bit, He wants us to be eternally happy and this means that we simply cannot afford to be completely happy with created things. Things of this world pass away. There is a saying, “after ecstasy, the laundry”, there must always be an end to idle pleasures – the empty chocolate bar wrapper, the plate that now needs washing up, the process of checking out of the hotel and paying the bill. We want this happiness to continue, but it can’t. Everything of this world must pass.

Even Our Lord Jesus has to cope with this. He takes pleasure in living. He eats with people, makes friends, and loves His family. These pleasures end: He gets tired, frustrated, even angry, and we all know about the awful things He goes through before He dies. His earthy mission ends. Our happiness with Him on earth is also limited. “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.”


While we live in this world, we have to hold fast to the reality that whatever we experience must pass away. Whatever you have or desire, this, too, shall pass, even down to our own bodies. They, too, shall pass.

However, Our Lord Himself tells us “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal : For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” This is how we repent of the sin of Lust. If Lust is an uncontrolled desire for pleasure, then we need to learn to control our desire for pleasure. We need to remember that any pleasure we have in life is fleeting and that only God is Eternal. If we can make God the central object of our desire, then any other pleasures in life will still be good, but they will be completed by God’s presence in our lives.

St Paul reminds us that greater pleasures await for us. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard , neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

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