In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
After a certain number of my last sermons, I was told that I cast a
feeling of darkness, of sadness in what I say; that I always insist on
the fact that we are called to such greatness, such holiness, and that
we betray our calling. And by doing this we betray the millions of
people who need not only words of Christ, but a revelation of the fact
that Christ has called people like us to Himself, and has transfigured
them, made them different, so that in a gift of self, of love they bring
not only a message but a vision of what Christ has willed for all
mankind - indeed for all creation.
I will to-day say a few words about this.
First of all - yes, it is true; when I preach a sermon I speak of
myself. I speak of how I respond to the word of Christ, and I feel that
I stand before God, and most of the time I stand condemned, but I am not
projecting this on to any one in the church. So many are faithful, so
many have changed their lives since they met the Gospel of Christ and
entered into this mysterious communion of prayer and sacrament which we
find in the Church. But if you ask me what to do in order to grow into
this communion with Christ, into the joy of being at one with Him, I
will say two things.
To begin with, you remember the first of the Beatitudes: Blessed are the
poor in spirit - theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. And the poor in spirit
are those who at the very core of their being, with all their awareness
understand that whatever they are, whatever they possess, is a gift of
God. We exist only because we have been called into existence in an act
of Divine Love; and not only of Divine Love - God has entrusted us life.
He has trusted us enough to call us into being in order to become one
day His companions of eternity. The fact that we possess nothing which
is our own, and are nothing except by an act of Divine Love, is truly
blessedness, because if anything was our own, it would be taken away
from our love relationship with God and with one another. So, indeed, we
are blissful, we can rejoice, but we can also be deeply, infinitely
grateful to God for what He has done to us by loving us into existence,
by entrusting life and the destiny of the world to us, by hoping all
things from us, because He hopes against hope, as it were, until our
life has come to an end, He still hopes that we will be His own.
And so, if we concentrate on this, if we respond to God's love and hope
and trust by true gratitude, if we try to make our life into an act of
gratitude that will give God joy, that will show Him that it is not in
vain that He has done all this, we shall be very close to living worthy
of God. It may not appear outwardly to be spectacularly different, but
this gratitude of ours, this joy, this sense of possessing already the
blessedness which will expand and flower into eternity, will be an
inspiration for us.
The second thing which I want to mention is that when we read the
Scriptures, when we read the writings of spiritual fathers, we must
concentrate not on what accuses us of our unworthiness, but concentrate
on what our heart responds to, our mind takes in with joy. Because, if
our heart responds to any word of Christ, if our mind is illumined by
His words, if our will is stirred into action, it means that God and I -
yes, I, unworthy as I am, am akin to Him, that I am already in His
image, that He is my like and I am His like.
And then, let us then remember these passages of the Gospel, of the
Epistles that have hit us at the heart, that have made our heart bound
with joy, that have made our mind luminous, our will alive and strong.
Let us remember them, because these are points at which we are already
with Christ, ways in which the Kingdom of God has already come to us.
Let us then live worthily - not of things which we do not yet
understand, but of those things which are already reality within our
hearts, within our minds, within our lives. If we start at this point,
then however sad we may be that these points are few, that we are
imperfect even in who we already are potentially, we may rejoice that
this is a beginning and that we can grow further and further into the
depths of our communion with God.
So, let us read the Scriptures, let us live by the Beatitudes with
gratitude and joy, knowing that we already belong to this realm and it
is enough for us to consider that the aim of our Christian life is to
give Christ the joy of our salvation, and for us to work our salvation
also with joy. Amen.