“..England expects..that every man will do his duty..” the words of Admiral Nelson as Battle of Trafalgar was about to start..21 Oct 1805 & in 1st rdg “God expects..” having brought chosen people out of slavery of Egypt, God lays down the terms & conditions of his continuing presence & protection..the 10 Commandments.. & the echoing refrain throughout, which even today sends shivers down the spine is “..thou shalt not..” for times we still give way to a dependency on tablets of stone, surviving in a religion of force fear & reprisal, let us ask Our Lord..a Lord of mercy love & compassion..to expect us as we are, a poor crew, sea sick & out of uniform, yet in need of our spiritual Admiral who expects nothing & gifts us everything..
“..you Lord have the message of eternal life..” message/secret is love ; Lord have mercy “..the rule of the Lord is to be trusted, it gives wisdom to the simple..” ..for making faith complicated.. ; Christ have mercy “..the decrees of the Lord are truth & just..” ..not set in stone written on your heart.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
God expects every man & woman to do their duty..or..God expects his love of you to gift you an everlasting relationship with him? ..“only you & Jesus” of last Sun gospel, you & him on a mountain of transfiguration “it is wonderful for us to be here” & it was wasn’t it?..to see six young disciples write their baptismal names in ink on their card of intent, engraving their loving intent on God’s heart..so so different to writing chiselling rules on tablets of stone, to be used in evidence against them & us when we get it wrong..again & again ”I’m not good enough ; I’ll never be good enough” God expects great expectations ..I might as well wave the white flag now as I face yet another personal Lent defeat..like Shep, Willie’s beloved sheepdog I introduced you to last week, who committed mortal sin of sheepdogs, he killed a sheep “thou shalt not kill”.. Willie in his innocence told his father of misdeed & “he instructed him as was right & proper, to go back up to the dark woods with rope & lead Shep down so the killing could take place..but I loved the dog so sorely, I hesitated & went through wood to the other side, where there was a simple man who made his living from the rabbits & maybe he had need of a watchful dog..but he wouldn’t take a dog that had killed, though he was a tender man enough”.. Willie a lad with a big heart, of duty & obedience to his father, yet of love & compassion towards the weakest & the guilty. I’ll share more of story with you later in Lent..story all too familiar & a gospel from St John; feel taste the difference..we meet a Jesus like Willie struggling with tension twixt his humanity & his divinity..to be Son of God didn’t gift him silver spoon of privilege & exemption “a man like us in all things but sin” “is anger a sin Fr Bede?” & by way of example I cite this gospel. Jesus rocks up at Temple, not a mere little country synagogue like this Church but the seat of Judaism..St Peters in Rome or Chief Rabbi’s synagogue in St Johns Wood..& there he found wheelers & dealers doing what they’d been taught to do, dutifully obediently buying selling, exchange & mart..the Jewish law had taught them very well..to gain Gods ear they had to bring an offering, a sweetener, as token of their faith in God, a perfect God..the gift had to be perfect, clean healthy, your sheep or pigeon [& no goats please]had to be squeaky clean Gentile-free uncontaminated ..your £5 note on collection plate had to be straight out of Royal Mint.. free of unholy transactions grimy currency grubby hands & soiled hearts..”thou shalt not..” as a fully practising Jew, Jesus knew, he’d been taught 10 commandments, the rules & regulations, & as such he wouldn’t take exception to merchants buying & selling, cleaning up offerings & currency ready for an offertory procession worthy of a sanitised relationship of God & his people..so why the whip?..why overturn the tables & bawl out occupants? First & less importantly they were doing it in wrong place..should’ve been transacted in Parish Hall, a halfway house a nurses station..examination room in Surgery in our House..when what needs to be done before you meet the doctor himself is done..& then, only then, secondly & of vital importance, you & Jesus can have one to one quality time & conversation “only you & Jesus”..how are you? how have you been? what can I do for you? how do you feel about yourself now? & will you come back & see me again soon..please? ..is it Jesus the doctor talking to you?..or you enquiring of Jesus how he really is?..” & many believed in his name, he never needed evidence about any man.. he could tell what a man had in him”..he could tell what a man had in him; for years now misread & putting fear of God in you..a God who expects..& now deep into Lent it is the making & the saving of us..once we realise the Ampleforth monthly market happens out there, & not in here on this holy ground where the only engraved stone tablets don’t shout out prohibition but record /remember the life & faith of our beloved in our graveyard, beneficiaries now of the fullness of divine great expectation..in here, in the pews you make holy by your presence, we hold silent conversation..it isn’t quite “thou shalt not talk” its more a gentle whisper of “only me & Jesus”..whisper our Lent word remember? the r word..”the presence of God today is also called Rohingya” [3rd SunLent Jn 2;13-25]