Sunday, June 13, 2021

Refusing God

Propers for the second Sunday after Trinity

Sermon for the second Sunday after Trinity

God is love.

This is something that St John takes great pains to tell us. And he would know. 

St John, together with St James and St Peter, has spent his time so close to Jesus that he knows Him so well. He hears Him teach; he sees Him heal; he sees Him die and rise from the dead. Also, St John is entrusted with the care of the Virgin Mary, Our Lord's Mother, after the events of Easter. Of all people, St John knows that God is Love.

But he also knows that people do not love. He has heard the swearing and cursing of the Holy Name of Jesus. He has heard the jeering laughter as Holy healing hands are pierced with nails and then lifted on high in agony. St John himself suffers at the hand of those who hate as they try to boil him in oil at the Latin Gate.

St John knows love and he knows hate.

Hatred is a absence of love. If we choose not to love our neighbour, we choose not to love God. 

Can we choose not to love God?


St John hears Jesus tell of those who refuse to come to the great banquet and thus give place for those who did not know they were invited. Those who refuse are those so preoccupied with worldly living that they regard the banquet as not worth their time. And when the banquet happens, they do not go in. They have refused love. They have refused God.


The act of being indifferent to love is just as bad as hating. St John sees a person in need as a chance to make God apparent to them by the act of loving them. If we say that we love but don't actually love, then we are preventing those in need from receiving God at our hands. Of course, God will present Himself to anyone in need some other way. But it is the one who only pays lip service to love who refuses God. He who fails to love loses Eternal life.

We are free to choose to love. This means we are free to withhold love. This means we are free to walk away from the banquet of God. We are free not to enter into Eternal life with God.


This is a terrifying thought. The act of our will not to choose God means we miss out on Eternity. The first word of Our Lord's ministry is "repent!" It is a call to turn back to God. It is a call to enter through the narrow gate of the Cross in a commitment to loving our neighbour as ourselves. Failure to do so means the outer darkness with the wailing and gnashing of teeth.


The absence of love is hatred and there is no place for it in God's kingdom. All sin is a form of hatred of God and neighbour and even oneself. As long as we hold on to sin, we hold on to the outer darkness. 

If we hold onto the Cross then we cannot hold on to sin. If we, through love, are nailed to the cross we bear, we cannot hold on to sin. St John sees that most clearly when he begs us to love one another. Love is costly and hard work, full of pain, struggle and sorrow. Sin is easy, sickly sweet, comfortable and snug.


The struggle of the cross is the sign of true love. Choose the cross and you will not refuse love. Refuse love and you refuse Eternal life in God. St John says it is that simple.

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