Sunday, April 24, 2016
Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the fourth Sunday after Easter.
Wouldn't it be nice to know where you're going? So many of us now are saying things like, "I just don't know what to do in life" or "I've haven't got a clue where this is taking me." More and more schoolchildren are having difficulty in answering the question, "what do you want to do when you leave school?" Do you know where life is taking you?
Why does this disturb us? Can't we just go with the flow?
In this day and age, we find ourselves worrying about the future. What we'd really like to do is to take a sneaky peak at the end of the book and see that everything ends up all right. We just want to be reassured that we couldn't have done better than the life we're living now, that we're in the right job, with the right people, doing the right thing.
As Christians, we might be tempted to think that God has our lives all mapped out for us, and that we don't have to worry about things. Does that mean that we don't have to take any responsibility for our lives? The problem is sin. Any plan that God has for us cannot involve any sin whatsoever. God's desire is for us to be reconciled to Him completely and any sin separates. While it is true that God knows us better than we know ourselves, it is our decision whether or not to take the opportunities that God offers us. Our Lord offers both Judas and Peter the opportunity to become His disciples and friends. Both of them fall away: Judas betrays Jesus; Peter denies Jesus. Yet Judas, rather than repenting, seeking the way back to God takes matters into his own hands and loses everything. Peter takes up that opportunity to face what he has done, repents and is given a further opportunity to feed the Lord's sheep.
The life of Our Lord has followed a particular direction, from birth to death, He set out to accomplish something remarkable, namely the redemption and salvation of all mankind. Some people, like Moses, Aaron, Samuel, Peter, James, John, et c are called in order to do something specific for God. Yet, if one looks at their lives, one sees that Moses doesn't reach the Promised Land, nor does Aaron, Samuel dies in regret over Saul, Peter and James both die horrible deaths. John is exiled.
One might say that theirs is a life of failure, but we Christians would regard this as a success. Easter shows us why. We don't just have this life to live. We have a whole life beyond with God in Eternity where our sinfulness can't touch us. Our Lord's death on the cross means precisely that we are dead to sin.
Practically, this just means that we do not need to worry about tomorrow. We can be reassured that our ending in the back of the book is wonderful without taking a sneaky peek. Our Lord has already taken that sneaky peak for us. As Our Lord tells us, we only need to worry about getting through today. Of course we still have to look and plan ahead, but we must live our lives looking for God. If our plans go awry, that's not always the easiest thing, but we can be sure that God is there. We cannot insist on our own way in life, but we can learn to see God in today, and live and plan our lives accordingly.
The fact that the Lord knows where He is going means that He can send us the Holy Ghost so that we can live knowing where we're going, but not necessarily knowing how we're going to get there. Perhaps God is telling us that that is half the fun!