Sunday, February 21, 2021

Apostles for all

Propers for the first Sunday in Lent

Sermon for the first Sunday in Lent

The bishops are the successors of Our Lord's first Apostles, those eleven men who sit at His table, who hear Him in the synagogues and then go out giving up everything, even their very lives, for the truth of His Resurrection. Those eleven become twelve with the addition of St Matthias, and then fourteen with St Paul and St Barnabas and so on...

The earliest Christians chart these Apostles and their successors and they show that, for the good of the Church, these Apostles are to be succeeded in our bishops so that the whole Church throughout Time may receive the grace of God that the Disciples receive.

But what of us who aren't bishops. Do we just sit there like sheep and let the bishops do all the work?


There is a tendency among certain sorts of Christian to be lazy. These say, "I'm okay. I'm saved. There's nothing for me to do except sit in the congregation and bask in God's love." These will sit and criticise their bishops or priests and question their message and not do anything other than do what they want to do in smug self-satisfaction.

These are the Christians that St Paul encounters at Corinth.


Having written his beautiful first letter to the Church in Corinth, St Paul receives a reply in which his credentials as an apostle are called into question. They think that his message to them doesn't suit them.

We see St Paul demonstrate that he is better qualified for apostleship than any of their false apostles but that he glories only in the Cross of Christ. What we see now is that he turns the tables on these false apostles. If they truly glory in the Cross of Christ, then they will pick up their cross with enthusiasm.


For St Paul, apostleship is a perpetual Lent. It means giving up what is good for Christ. It means receiving unjust punishment for Christ. It means being willing to put your head above the parapet to proclaim the Gospel and risk a cannon ball to the face. 

And this is not restricted to the bishops. As Catholics we are to participate in the ministry of our bishops. We aren't to sit there and let them do all the work. We aren't to sit glued to Facebook and watch them get abused for the Gospel they preach. We aren't to see them as figures to snipe at. We are to share their work. The bishops are bidden to give God's grace to you in order for you to do something with it. The sacrament of Confirmation is open to all Christians and in it we receive the grace to work actively as Christians in the world. If we don't then we receive God's grace in vain. We bury our talent and will have to receive the consequences when the Master comes to collect His talents once more with interest.


Our Lent should be looking to give up ourselves for the good of the Church. We should look at ways in which God through His bishops sends us out to work for good for those who need to hear and receive the good news and God's hope in their pain, sorrow, fear and doubt. We should listen carefully to God this Lent and hear how He sends us.

And then, when He sends us, we pick up our cross and walk with it into the world for the love of all.

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