Sunday, June 12, 2016
The Lion's share of diabolical activity
Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Third Sunday after Trinity
Are lions evil?
They catch and kill animals but then, they have to in order to eat. Why does that make them evil?
We tend to make this sort of judgment based on what we see lions do. Perhaps we tend to side with the poor, harmless gazelle who gets chased, and potentially caught. Why take the gazelle’s side over the lions?
Look carefully at a lion and you see that it is a beautiful creature, well-designed by God. In fact, we know that it is the lioness that is the more skilled predator and she is highly efficient at what she does. It’s not safe to be a gazelle when there is a lioness around with cubs to feed.
How efficient is a roaring lion going to be at catching prey to devour? The gazelle will surely hear him coming and run off, won’t she? Resisting a roaring lion is easy, surely?
It is entirely possible for an animal to hear the roaring and be frozen in fear. It is also possible for an animal to be distracted, or unfit. That way a lion can indeed seize the weaker, less-prepared animal.
Likewise, when it comes to the Devil, we can be frozen in fear of his presence in the world. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights, we can freeze in the presence of Evil and do nothing to stop its spread.
We can be distracted from hearing him. There are lots of voices in the world, some of which speak Good, but many which are designed to obscure that message OF God’s love. Sometimes we are just overwhelmed by the noise that we don’t hear Evil coming.
We can be so unfit as to be unable to avoid him. We can be so used to our own sins that we simply don’t recognise the Devil when he creeps up on us.
St Peter reminds us “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith.”How do we avoid fear of the Devil and the sufferings he can inflict?
We need to deal with our fear. First, we can recognise that, in the Cross, Our Lord has already defeated the Devil and rendered him powerless over the people of God. While the Devil may cause suffering in this life, he cannot destroy who we are. We are safe with Christ. If we want evidence, we can recognise that all the saints are going through the same troubles, and hold true to God. This shows that the Devil can be resisted.
We need to know what sin is, and the difference between good and evil. We have only to look to God for that. It is possible for every human being to be good, but all Goodness comes from God, not from human beings. We need to look to God in the Bible, in the saints, in the sacraments.
We need to know how we have sinned and recognise that we all fall short, that we all sin and render ourselves unfit to resist Evil. We can repent of our sins and, by drawing on the grace given by Our Lord, find nourishment to make ourselves fit again to serve.
We must also encourage others, not by judging them by our own standards, but by realising that we are all in the same boat and all loved by God. Remember, Our Lord says, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Those who are just in their own eyes never hear the Devil’s roar. They are like gazelles who have put their hooves into their ears. But, by recognising that we can behave foolishly, sinfully, and wickedly, we can understand that our fellow human beings need prayer, warning, grace, and love.
All too often, the animals on this planet lose their lives because of the foolishness of people. Playing the blame game does nothing. They lose their lives because we human beings treat them badly. How we treat animals says much about how we treat ourselves. We need to do better, each one of us, but we are loved by Christ. It is His love that helps us hear the lion’s roar and resist the Devil and all his works.