Sunday, May 24, 2015

Flammable Christianity?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Whitsunday 2015

Abba Lot says to Abba Joseph: “Father … I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation, and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart … what more should I do?” The elder stretches up his hands to heaven and his fingers become fire. He says, “Why not become all flame?”

Would you like to become all flame?


The early Christians often say things that can baffle us rather and Abba Lot and Abba Joseph are typical of the first Christian hermits who go out into the desert in order to hear God better. Notice that, despite spending all that time in prayer, they still need to ask each other about how to live the Christian life.

The disciples too spend much of their time with Our Lord Jesus a bit confused. They listen and think and do as they are told. In His Name they cast out demons and heal the sick and preach the good news of God’s love, yet still they scatter when He is crucified and disbelieve when He rises from the dead.

These are the people whom He has taught, but teaching doesn’t seem enough.
These are the people to whom He has shown miracles, but showing them miracles doesn’t help them to hold faith.
These are the people to whom He has shown His risen self, but rising from the dead doesn’t convince them.
They need something else. Some One else.

This is why Human beings needed today. We have needed to see God walk with us and to be one of us and to bring us back to God through His death on the Cross. However, human beings are limited in time and space and Our Lord is no exception. We clearly need Him to be with us always and to know that He is with us always. This is why God sends us the Holy Ghost.


Abba Joseph shows Abba Lot that simply doing our own thing is not enough. There is no way that we can earn our way to Heaven. There is nothing that we can do that can bring us close to God. It is God that makes Himself close to us so that we can reach out for Him. Abba Joseph knows that in order to live a life that leads to God, we need to call upon God the Holy Ghost.

Abba Joseph burns with the same fire that lights upon the head of each of the disciples. It is a fire that burns, but does not burn away. This is the same fire that burns in the bush and brings Moses to God.

Our Lord calls us to be the light of the world, but it is not our light that shines. It is His and His alone. It may not be our light, but we can choose to shine with it. This means living our life according to Christian principles and by careful prayer. However, we must also pray to God daily, and pray hard, that He would show us how we can allow His light to shine through us into the world and give hope to those who need it.


If we want to, we can indeed become all flame!

No comments: